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Water is one of the indispensable resources for the continued existence of all living things including man. The provision of an adequate supply of safe drinking water was one of the eight components of primary health care identified by the International Conference on Primary Health care in 1978. This study investigated the bacteriological quality of sachet-packed water in Imo State, Nigeria. A total of five sachet water collected around Imo State University premises where examined for registration number, manufacturing date, expiry date and net volume (cl).

Physiochemical analysis carried out showed that these sachet waters where in accordance with the World Health Organization (WHO) Standard. The sachet waters cultured on bacteriological media showed the presence of coliform bacteria and other pathogenic bacteria. The bacteria isolate form the water samples are; Salmonella species, Coliform species, Escherichia coli, and Enterobacter species.

Results showed that 100% of the packaged water samples examined were either untreated or produced under unhygienic conditions. High aerobic colony counts in the order of 106 were recorded from all of the samples examined. The findings show that 90% of packed pure water sold in the country are not fit for human consumption and are hazardous to health. This calls for urgent attention by regulatory bodies and law enforcement agencies in the country.




Production and sale of sachet water, popularly called “pure water” in Nigeria, is presently a lucrative business, therefore many people are involved in the production and marketing of the product. Water is one of the most important as well as one of the most abundant compound on earth, and is vital to the survival of any organism (Tortora et al., 2002).Water in nature is seldom totally pure. Rainfall is contaminated as it falls to earth (Ajewole, 2005). The combustion of fossil fuel put sulphur compounds as being responsible for pollution of rain water by precipitation (Edema et al., 2001). However, water that moves below the ground surface undergoes natural filtration that removes most organisms. For this reason, water from springs and deep wells are generally of better quality than flowing water. Water related diseases continue to be one of the major health issue globally. The high revalence of diarrhoea among children and infants can be traced to the use of unsafe water and unhygienic practices (Omalu et al., 2010).  The most dangerous form of water pollution occur when fecal contaminants like Escherichia coli enter the water supply and also through the fecal-oral routes of transmission. Microbial contaminants in water supply are the sources of many diseases such as typhoid fever, cholera, bacillary dysentery and so on. Examples of such microbial contaminants are Salmonella spp., Shigella spp.,Vibrio cholerae, Escherichia coli (Edema et al.,2001; Tortora et al., 2002). Various opportunistic pathogens that occur naturally in the environment may cause disease in humans. Those who are at greater risk of infection are infants and young children, people whose immune system is suppressed, the sick and the elderly. In such individuals, drinking water containing large numbers of opportunistic pathogens can occasionally produce infections. Examples of such opportunistic pathogens are

Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Klebsiella spp., Areomonas spp., and certain slow growing Mycobacterium (WHO, 2001) in Nigeria, the National Agency for Food and Drugs Administration Control (NAFDAC) in association with the World Health Organization (WHO, 2001) has the responsibility of regulating the standard of drinking water. The agency has published guidelines for the production of sachet- packaged drinking water. Unfortunately most producers do not adhere to these guidelines (Onemano et al., 2003). Thus, this work is aimed at assessing the microbiological quality of sachet packaged water in three Local government areas in Ibadan.



The aim of this study is to evaluate the sterility of sachet water sold in owerri, particularly in Imo State University.


The objectives of this study are

1.     Isolation of organism from sachet water sold in Imo State University

2.     Identification of the isolates from sachet water sold in Imo State University

1.3 Significance of the study

Water analysis is the first step in determining the quality of the water you use in your home or commercial enterprise.  Water that is supplied to cities, towns and villages is tested on a regular basis by the local County or City Council. Well and surface waters are vulnerable to pollution and should be checked for pathogenic bacteria. The presence of Coliforms in water bodies indicates presence of pathogenic bacteria. Sachet water sold in Owerri is to be properly analyzed for pathogenic bacteria such as Salmonella spp. as this will help prevent once from drinking contaminated water.


1.4.1 Water Analysis

Microorganisms are natural components of streams, lakes, rivers and underground waters. These organisms have enormous impact on the process that occur in aquatic ecosystem such as carbon, nitrogen, and sulphur transformation. They can also have an impact on the quality of water by controlling the amount of oxygen and other elements in the and by causing diseases in aquatic organisms as well as humans. Microorganisms from other sources also are introduced into the aquatic environment as a result of pollution. The sources of water supply are usually water from any of these sources is treated to make it suitable for drinking. The aim of microbiological examination of water is to determine the sanitary quality and its suitability for general use. The sanitary quality of water is the relative extent of the absence of suspended matter, colour, taste, and unwanted dissolved chemical, bacteria indicative of faecal presence and other asthetically offensive objects or properties (Pipes, 2000). The major concern about the water quality is pollution by faecal materials and toxic chemical is called potable water. Potable water is unsafe for consumption. When fecal materials contaminate source of water supplies, they may contain pathogenic organisms which may cause epidemic outbreaks of cholera, typoid fever, bacillary dysentery, hepatitis or other diseases. Water borne pathogens are causative agents for many human diseases and their presence poses a potential threat to the human population. It is well known that water resources are subjected to frequent dramatic changes in microbial and chemical qualities as a result of the variety of activities on the watershed. For rural populations, the provison of reliable and clean water supplies is an important element in the quality of life. The microbial quality of drinking water is a cause of concern worldwide. A large percentage of ill health in less developed countries stems from lack of safe water adequate sanitation (Pipes, 2000).

          Water analysis is therefore a standard routine procedure carried out by the sanitary microbiologists of the municipal water purification plant. The purpose of analysis of municipal water is to determine the raw water quality, the need for purification and possible changes during distribution (Pipes, 2000).

          Microorganisms are natural components of lakes, rivers, underground waters and streams. These organisms are numerous and perform various functions in the aquatic systems. However, their presence in drinking water poses great risk to man and animals. Water sources could be perfectly clean in appearance, free from characteristics of odor and taste and yet is contaminated. It is well known and proven fact that water contaminated with sewage and other pollutants could cause disease. The degree of pollution and natural purification of water bodies can measure physically, chemically and biologically and no single yardstick is enough depending on the nature of the polluting substances and the uses the receiving body of water is to serve. Water is only safe for drinking (i.e potable) if it is free from disease producing microorganisms and chemical substances harmful to health. Microbiological examination of water is therefore a very useful and significant method of biological assessment of new or intermittent water pollution (Willey et al., 2008).

1.4.2 Microorganisms as Indicators of water quality

Indicator organisms are used as a proxy to monitor conditions in a particular environment, ecosystem, area, habitat, or consumer product. Certain bacteria, fungi and helminth eggs are being used for various purposes.

Types Indicator bacteria

Certain bacteria can be used as indicator organisms in particular situations. The presence of bacteria commonly found in human feces, termed coliform bacteria (e.g. E. coli), in surface water is a common indicator of faecal contamination. For this reason, sanitation programs often test water for the presence of these organisms to ensure that drinking water systems are not contaminated with feces. This testing can be done using several methods which generally involve taking samples of water, or passing large amounts of water through a filter to sample bacteria, then testing to see if bacteria from that water grow on selective media such as MacConkey agar. Alternatively, the sample can be tested to see if it utilizes various nutrients in ways characteristic of coliform bacteria (Pipes, 2000).

Coliform bacteria selected as indicators of faecal contamination must not persist in the environment for long periods of time following efflux from the intestine, and their presence must be closely correlated with contamination by other faecal organisms. Indicator organisms need not be pathogenic. Non-coliform bacteria, such as Streptococcus bovis and certain clostridia may also be used as an index of faecal contamination.

Indicator fungi

Penicillium species, Aspergillus niger and Candida albicans are used in the pharmaceutical industry for microbial limit testing, bioburden assessment, method validation, antimicrobial challenge tests, and quality control testing. When used in this capacity, Penicillium and A. niger are compendial mold indicator organisms (Ashbolt et al., 2016).

Molds such as Trichoderma, Exophiala, Stachybotrys, Aspergillus fumigatus, Aspergillus versicolor, Phialophora, Fusarium, Ulocladium and certain yeasts are used as indicators of indoor air quality.

Indicator helminth eggs

Identification and quantification of helminth eggs at UNAM University in Mexico City, Mexico. Helminth eggs (or ova) are a good indicator organism to assess the safety of sanitation and wastewater reuse systems for resource recovery because they are the most environmentally resistant pathogens of all pathogens (viruses, bacteria, protozoa and helminths) and the isolation and identification of pathogens in water is not the basis to determine the portability of water especially as regards its microbiological quality (Ashbolt et al., 2016). This is because

Ø Pathogens may be present in very small numbers and are likely to escape detection by laboratory procedures

Ø Pathogens are likely to enter water supply sporadically and may not survive for a long period of time

Ø It takes 24 hours or longer to obtain results from a routine laboratory examination for pathogenic microorganisms.

If routine examination targets pathogenic organisms only, by the time the pathogens are isolated; many people would have consumed the water and would be exposed to those pathogenic microbes before any meaningful action could be taken to correct the situation. In practice therefore, Microbiologists use water testing procedures that do not depend on the isolation and identification of pathogenic organisms. Rather, tests are usually based on the findings of microorganisms whose presence indicate or show the possibility of the presence of pathogenic microorganisms. These kinds or organisms are referred to as indicator microorganisms (Ashbolt et al., 2016).

1.4.3 Characteristics of Indicator Organisms

Indicator microorganisms have some important characteristics which make them suitable for the purpose. These characteristics include:

1.     It is present in water and absent from unpolluted water

2.     Indicator organisms are present in water when pathogens are present

3.     The quantity of indicator organisms correlates with the amount of pollution

4.     It survives better and longer than the pathogens

5.     It is generally harmful to humans and other animals

6.     It has uniform and stable properties

7.     It can be easily detected by simple standard laboratory procedures

The organism that carry satisfies the requirement of an ideal indicator of fecal water pollution is Escherichia coli and is the organism that is mostly used. However, other bacteria that can also be used as pollution indicators include Streptococcus faecalis and Clostridium perfringes are normal inhabitants of the large intestine of humans and other animals. It has also been suggested waste into water can be used as indicators of pollution. Viruses that can be used include the coliform bacteriophages and reoviruses (Norwalk virus).

Escherichia coli and other coliform bacteria

     The coliform bacteria are gram negative non sporing, facultatively anaerobic bacillus which can ferment lactose within 48 hours with the formation of acid and gas at 35OC. examples of coliform include  Escherichia coli, Klebsiella, Enterobacter, Hafnia, Serrati and Citrobacter.  Water bacteriologist usually consider any member of the Enterobacteriaciae which grows at 37OC and normally possesses the enzymes β-galactosidases as coliform (Chantran and Heartha, 2005).

Escherichia coli are a normal inhabitant of the human intestinal tract and other warm blooded animals and thus is regarded as a feacal type of coliform. Some members of the coliform group, for example Enterobacter aerogenes are widely distributed in nature and found in soil, water, grains and also the intestinal tract of human and other animals and other animals and are regarded as the non faecal coliform (Chandran and Heartha, 2005).

1.4.4 Water Pollution

Water pollution is the contamination of water bodies (e.g. lakes, rivers, oceans, aquifers and groundwater). This form of environmental degradation occurs when pollutants are directly or indirectly discharged into water bodies without adequate treatment to remove harmful compounds.

Water pollution affects the entire biosphere – plants and organisms living in these bodies of water. In almost all cases the effect is damaging not only to individual species and population, but also to the natural biological communities.

Water pollution is a major global problem which requires ongoing evaluation and revision of water resource policy at all levels (international down to individual aquifers and wells). It has been suggested that water pollution is the leading worldwide cause of deaths and diseases, and that it accounts for the deaths of more than 14,000 people daily. An estimated 580 people in India die of water pollution related illness every day. About 90 percent of the water in the cities of China is polluted. As of 2007, half a billion Chinese had no access to safe drinking water. In addition to the acute problems of water pollution in developing countries, developed countries also continue to struggle with pollution problems. For example, in the most recent national report on water quality in the United States, 44 percent of assessed stream miles, 64 percent of assessed lake acres, and 30 perc

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