Pathogenic features of heterotrophic plate count bacteria from drinking-water boreholes

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Peer-Reviewed Research
  • SDG 6
  • SDG 3
  • SDG 2
  • Abstract:

    Evidence suggests that heterotrophic plate count (HPC) bacteria may be hazardous to humans with weakened health. We investigated the pathogenic potential of HPC bacteria from untreated borehole water, consumed by humans, for: their haemolytic properties, the production of extracellular enzymes such as DNase, proteinase, lipase, lecithinase, hyaluronidase and chondroitinase, the effect simulated gastric fluid has on their survival, as well as the bacteria's antibiotic-susceptible profile. HuTu-80 cells acted as model for the human intestine and were exposed to the HPC isolates to determine their effects on the viability of the cells. Several HPC isolates were α- or β-haemolytic, produced two or more extracellular enzymes, survived the SGF treatment, and showed resistance against selected antibiotics. The isolates were also harmful to the human intestinal cells to varying degrees. A novel pathogen score was calculated for each isolate. Bacillus cereus had the highest pathogen index: the pathogenicity of the other bacteria declined as follows: Aeromonas taiwanensis > Aeromonas hydrophila > Bacillus thuringiensis > Alcaligenes faecalis > Pseudomonas sp. > Bacillus pumilus > Brevibacillus sp. > Bacillus subtilis > Bacillus sp. These results demonstrated that the prevailing standards for HPCs in drinking water may expose humans with compromised immune systems to undue risk