An investigation on the incidence of Staphylococcus aureus, coliforms and antibiotic resistant Escherichia coli strains in both treated and untreated rural water supplies was carried out in Calabar South Local Government Area of Cross River State, Nigeria. Analysis revealed significant differences between the different water sources, locations and the months of sampling, with the stream and well water showing higher bacterial contamination compared to the tap water source (P<0.05). The isolation of S. aureus, Bacillus species,Pseudomonas aeruginosa and other bacterial pathogens present enough evidence that water from these sources are unfit for human consumption and constitute significant public health implications except subjected to further treatment. High percentages of the E. colistrains isolated from the water sources showed multiple resistances to most of the antibiotics commonly used by humans. Strains recovered from the stream and well water sources were most resistant and showed significantly higher minimum inhibitory concentration (MIC) and minimum bactericidal concentration (MBC) (P < 0.05) than those from the tap water source. The results of this investigation therefore revealed that the bacteriological quality of both the treated tap and untreated well and stream water sources failed to meet the standards for drinking water.
Key words: Incidence, Staphylococcus aureus, coliforms, Escherichia coli, antibiotic resistance, water supplies.
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