Poor sanitation, unhygienic practices and close living associations between people and animals in rural communities increase the risk of zoonoses and add to faecal contamination of stored drinking water. Point-of-use interventions can improve the microbiological quality of household drinking water and a combination of microbial and chemical indicator tests could identify the origin of faecal pollution. The improvement of the microbiological quality of drinking water in rural households by the implementation of intervention strategies which included the use of traditional storage containers as well as an improved safe storage container (CDC, USA), with or without the addition of a sodium hypochlorite solution were determined. The origin of faecal contamination in the water sources and household stored water were determined using male specific F-RNA subgroup genotyping. This study attempted to assess the survival of indicator microorganisms and selected bacterial pathogens and viruses in the improved safe storage container in borehole and river water samples. An intervention study was conducted in two rural villages utilising different source water. Results indicated that the improved safe storage container without the addition of a stabilized sodium hypochlorite solution did not improve the microbiological quality of the stored drinking water and had counts of indicator microorganisms similar to that found in the traditional storage containers. However, the households using the 1% and the 3.5% sodium hypochlorite solutions have shown an effective reduction in the counts of indicator microorganisms in both the traditional and the improved safe storage containers. The compliance with the use of the sodium hypochlorite interventions ranged between 60% and 100%, which was in agreement with similar studies carried out in other developing countries. One village complied with the intervention while the other village did not. Reasons for this included financial factors, an unsupportive infrastructures and lack of education and knowledge on health risks by the households. Male specific F-RNA bacteriophage genotyping showed that faecal contamination in the water source samples and both the traditional and improved safe storage containers at the point-of-use were primarily of animal origin (Subgroup I). Households using river water had subgroup II F-RNA bacteriophages present in the stored household water, which was associated with human faecal pollution. However, subgroup II F-RNA bacteriophages has been isolated from faeces of cattle and poultry, which indicated that F-RNA subgroup typing might not be a specific tool to determine the origin of faecal pollution in water sources. Laboratory seeding experiments indicated that 1% sodium hypochlorite solution were less effective in reducing heterotrophic bacteria, Escherichia coli, Salmonella typhimurium, Clostridium perfringens, F-RNA bacteriophages and coxsackie B1 virus counts in the improved safe storage containers filled with river water with a high turbidity. However, the 1% sodium hypochlorite solution did reduce the indicator and seeded microorganisms within 60 min in containers filled with borehole water with a low turbidity. The 3.5% sodium hypochlorite solution effectively decreased the numbers of microorganisms to undetectable limits within 60 min in both the borehole and river filled storage containers irrespective of the turbidity values. This study has showed that a combination of intervention strategies can provide rural communities with microbiologically safe drinking water.
Thesis (PhD (Medical Virology))--University of Pretoria, 2008.