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Asellus aquaticus as a Potential Carrier of Escherichia coli and Other Coliform Bacteria into Drinking Water Distribution Systems

DOI: 10.3390/ijerph10030845

Keywords: asellids, fresh water, indicator organisms, invertebrate, microbial, water louse

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Individuals of the water louse, Asellus aquaticus, enter drinking water distribution systems in temperate parts of the world, where they establish breeding populations. We analysed populations of surface water A. aquaticus from two ponds for associated faecal indicator bacteria and assessed the risk of A. aquaticus transporting bacteria into distribution systems. Concentrations of up to two E. coli and five total coliforms·mL ?1 were measured in the water and 200 E. coli and >240 total coliforms·mL ?1 in the sediments of the investigated ponds. Concentrations of A. aquaticus associated bacteria never exceeded three E. coli and six total coliforms· A. aquaticus ?1. During exposure to high concentrations of coliforms, concentrations reached 350 coliforms· A. aquaticus ?1. A. aquaticus associated E. coli were only detected as long as E. coli were present in the water and sediment. The calculated probability of exceeding drinking water guideline values in non-disinfected systems by intrusion of A. aquaticus was low. Only in scenarios with narrow pipes and low flows, did total coliforms exceed guideline values, implying that the probability of detection by routine monitoring is also low. The study expands the knowledge base for evaluating incidents with presence of coliform indicators in drinking water by showing that intruding A. aquaticus were not important carriers of E. coli or other coliform bacteria even when emerging from faecally contaminated waters.


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