Enteric pathogens in stored drinking water and on caregiver's hands in Tanzanian households with and without reported cases of child diarrhea

PLoS One. 2014 Jan 2;9(1):e84939. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0084939. eCollection 2014.

Abstract

Background: Diarrhea is one of the leading causes of mortality in young children. Diarrheal pathogens are transmitted via the fecal-oral route, and for children the majority of this transmission is thought to occur within the home. However, very few studies have documented enteric pathogens within households of low-income countries.

Methods and findings: The presence of molecular markers for three enteric viruses (enterovirus, adenovirus, and rotavirus), seven Escherichia coli virulence genes (ECVG), and human-specific Bacteroidales was assessed in hand rinses and household stored drinking water in Bagamoyo, Tanzania. Using a matched case-control study design, we examined the relationship between contamination of hands and water with these markers and child diarrhea. We found that the presence of ECVG in household stored water was associated with a significant decrease in the odds of a child within the home having diarrhea (OR = 0.51; 95% confidence interval 0.27-0.93). We also evaluated water management and hygiene behaviors. Recent hand contact with water or food was positively associated with detection of enteric pathogen markers on hands, as was relatively lower volumes of water reportedly used for daily hand washing. Enteropathogen markers in stored drinking water were more likely found among households in which the markers were also detected on hands, as well as in households with unimproved water supply and sanitation infrastructure.

Conclusions: The prevalence of enteric pathogen genes and the human-specific Bacteroidales fecal marker in stored water and on hands suggests extensive environmental contamination within homes both with and without reported child diarrhea. Better stored water quality among households with diarrhea indicates caregivers with sick children may be more likely to ensure safe drinking water in the home. Interventions to increase the quantity of water available for hand washing, and to improve food hygiene, may reduce exposure to enteric pathogens in the domestic environment.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Caregivers*
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Diarrhea / epidemiology*
  • Diarrhea / etiology*
  • Escherichia coli / genetics
  • Escherichia coli / pathogenicity
  • Family Characteristics
  • Female
  • Hand / microbiology*
  • Humans
  • Hygiene
  • Male
  • Prevalence
  • Tanzania / epidemiology
  • Viruses / genetics
  • Viruses / pathogenicity
  • Water Microbiology*
  • Water Quality

Grant support

This study was supported by the National Science Foundation (SES-0827384) and by the Stanford University Shah Research Fellowship. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.