Vibrio Pathogens: A Public Health Concern in Rural Water Resources in Sub-Saharan Africa

Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2017 Oct 7;14(10):1188. doi: 10.3390/ijerph14101188.


Members of the Vibrio genus are autochthonous inhabitants of aquatic environments and play vital roles in sustaining the aquatic milieu. The genus comprises about 100 species, which are mostly of marine or freshwater origin, and their classification is frequently updated due to the continuous discovery of novel species. The main route of transmission of Vibrio pathogens to man is through drinking of contaminated water and consumption inadequately cooked aquatic food products. In sub-Saharan Africa and much of the developing world, some rural dwellers use freshwater resources such as rivers for domestic activities, bathing, and cultural and religious purposes. This review describes the impact of inadequately treated sewage effluents on the receiving freshwater resources and the associated risk to the rural dwellers that depends on the water. Vibrio infections remain a threat to public health. In the last decade, Vibrio disease outbreaks have created alertness on the personal, economic, and public health uncertainties associated with the impact of contaminated water in the aquatic environment of sub-Saharan Africa. In this review, we carried out an overview of Vibrio pathogens in rural water resources in Sub-Saharan Africa and the implication of Vibrio pathogens on public health. Continuous monitoring of Vibrio pathogens among environmental freshwater and treated effluents is expected to help reduce the risk associated with the early detection of sources of infection, and also aid our understanding of the natural ecology and evolution of Vibrio pathogens.

Keywords: Vibrio pathogens; public health; rural water resources; sub-Saharan Africa.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Africa South of the Sahara / epidemiology
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / therapeutic use
  • Disease Outbreaks
  • Drug Resistance, Bacterial
  • Fresh Water / microbiology
  • Humans
  • Rural Population
  • Vibrio Infections / drug therapy
  • Vibrio Infections / epidemiology
  • Vibrio* / drug effects
  • Vibrio* / pathogenicity
  • Water Pollutants*


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Water Pollutants