Fecal pollution in water from storm sewers and adjacent seashores in Natal, Rio Grande do Norte, Brazil


  • Angela M. S. Cardonha Angela M. S. Cardonha
  • Regine H.S F. Vieira Institute of Marine Sciences, Federal University of Ceará, Fortaleza, CE, Brazil
  • Dália P. Rodrigues Fundação Oswaldo Cruz, Rio de Janeiro, RJ, Brazil
  • Andrew Macrae Institute of Microbiology Prof. Paulo de Goes, Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, RJ, Brazil
  • Gizele Peirano Fundação Oswaldo Cruz, Rio de Janeiro, RJ, Brazil
  • Grace N. D. Teophilo Fundação Oswaldo Cruz, Rio de Janeiro, RJ, Brazil


storm sewers, fecal contamination, heavy metals, antibiotic resistance


A study on the distribution patterns of enteropathogenic bacteria polluting the shoreline in Natal, Rio Grande do Norte, Brazil, was carried out based on 72 samples obtained from three storm sewers and adjoining beach locations, Praia do Meio (PM), Areia Preta (AP) and Ponta Negra (PN). From each location, 12 water samples were taken and analyzed for fecal coliforms (FC) and Escherichia coli. In AP, two (16.7%) of the seawater samples and five (41.7%) of the storm sewer samples yielded values above 1.1 × 107 FC/100 ml, whereas only one (8.3%) of the samples from PM reached this level. There was no correlation (p > 0.05) between rainfall indeces and FC values. A total of 64 E. coli isolates were obtained: 37 from the storm sewer samples and 27 from the seawater samples. Of these isolates, four (O143, two O112ac, and O124) were enteroinvasive and two (O111 and O125) were enteropathogenic. Resistance to antibiotics and to heavy metals was also analyzed. Almost 36% of the E. coli strains isolated were resistant to more than one antibiotic. All strains were resistant to zinc and copper at the highest concentration tested (250 μg/ml), and several (23.4%) were resistant to mercury at 50 μg/ml. Our results agreed with previous reports that antibiotic resistance is commonly associated with heavy-metal resistance in pathogens. [Int Microbiol 2004; 7(3):213–218]






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