Bublitz D.C., Wright P.C., Bodager J.R., Rasambainarivo F.T., Bliska J.B., and Gillespie, T.R. (2014). PLoS ONE 9(7): e101456.
Background: Among the families of enteric bacteria are globally important diarrheal agents. Despite their potential for zoonotic and environmental transmission, few studies have examined the epidemiology of these pathogens in rural systems characterized by extensive overlap among humans, domesticated and peridomestic animals. We investigated patterns of infection with Enterotoxigenic Escherichia coli, Shigella spp., Salmonella enterica, Vibrio cholerae, and Yersinia spp. (enterocolitica, and pseudotuberculosis) in Southeastern Madagascar where the potential for the aforementioned interactions is high. In this pilot project we conducted surveys to examine behaviors potentially associated with risk of infection and if infection with specific enterobacteria species was associated with diarrheal disease.
Methodology/Principal Findings: PCR was conducted on DNA from human, livestock, and rodent fecal samples from three villages. Overall, human prevalence was highest (77%), followed by rodents (51%) and livestock (18%). Rodents were ∼2.8 times more likely than livestock to carry one of the bacteria. The incidence of individual species varied between villages, with the observation that, E. coli and Shigella spp. were consistently associated with co-infections. As an aggregate, there was a significant risk of infection linked to a water source in one village. Individually, different pathogens were associated with certain behaviors, including: those who had used medication, experienced diarrhea in the past four weeks, or do not use toilets.
Conclusions/Significance: Different bacteria were associated with an elevated risk of infection for various human activities or characteristics. Certain bacteria may also predispose people to co-infections. These data suggest that a high potential for transmission among these groups, either directly or via contaminated water sources. As these bacteria were most prevalent in humans, it is possible that they are maintained in humans and that transmission to other species is infrequent. Further studies are needed to understand bacterial persistence, transmission dynamics, and associated consequences in this and similar systems.