The objective of the study was to evaluate the survival response of multi-drug resistant enteropathogenic Escherichia coli and Salmonella paratyphi to the salinity fluctuations induced by a saltwater barrier constructed in Vembanadu lake, which separates the lake into a freshwater dominated southern and brackish water dominated northern part. Therefore, microcosms containing freshwater, brackish water and microcosms with different saline concentrations (5, 10, 15, 20, 25 ppt) inoculated with E. coli/S. paratyphi were monitored up to 34 days at 20 and 30 °C. E. coli and S. paratyphi exhibited significantly higher (p < 0.05) survival at 20 °C compared to 30 °C in all microcosms. Despite fresh/brackish water, E. coli and S. paratyphi showed prolonged survival up to 34 days at both temperatures. They also demonstrated better survival potential at all tested saline concentrations except 25 ppt where a significantly higher (p < 0.0001) decay was observed. Therefore, enhanced survival exhibited by the multi-drug resistant enteropathogenic E. coli and S. paratyphi over a wide range of salinity levels suggest that they are able to remain viable for a very long time at higher densities in all seasons of the year in Vembanadu lake irrespective of saline concentrations, and may pose potential public health risks during recreational activities.

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