Spatial and temporal distribution of faecal indicators and multidrug resistant bacteria in a multiple-use freshwater lake: the case of Lake Hawassa, Ethiopia


  • Deresse Daka School of Medical Laboratory Sciences, Hawassa University College of Medicine, Hawassa, Ethiopia
  • Hunachew Beyene, Dr Department of Environmental Health, Hawassa University College of Medicine, Hawassa, Ethiopia
  • Simachew Dires Department of Environmental Health, Hawassa University College of Medicine, Hawassa, Ethiopia



multidrug resistance, water microbiology, lakes, wastewater, Lake Hawassa, Ethopia


Background: Aquatic environments close to cities are frequently used as sources for water and at the same time overloaded with a variety of pollutants either through direct or indirect discharges of untreated wastes and sewage. This condition is also worsened by the indiscriminate disposal of untreated wastes and sewage vigorously into used water. Sewage contaminated waters are known to carry microorganisms, some of which are pathogenic to humans.

Aim: The aim of this study was to assess the extent of temporal and spatial levels of microbial pollution and sources of pollution in Lake Hawassa.

Method: A cross-sectional study was conducted at Lake Hawassa, which was sampled twice during 2017. A total of 26 samples of lake water were collected from 14 stations using a boat. Entry points of incoming streams, waste receiving sites, and areas upstream of anthropogenic impact, recreational and bathing sites were considered. Microbiological characterisation was performed using selective media and basic biochemical tests. Antibiotic sensitivity was tested with different antibiotics using the Kirby-Bauer agar disk diffusion method.

Result: All samples were positive for pathogenic bacteria, including Gram-positive and Gram-negative bacteria. Enterobacteriaceae were the most common bacteria identified from the samples, including Escherichia coliSalmonella spp, Shigella spp, Proteus spp and Gram-positive bacteria, such as Staphylococcus aureus. The predominant bacteria found in the samples include E. coli, which constituted 22/26 (84.6%) of the total samples, followed by Salmonella and Shigella spp. All bacterial isolates were resistant to penicillin and ampicillin. The Salmonella spp were sensitive only to norfloxacin and gentamicin.

Conclusion: A spatial variation with the occurrence of bacterial isolates has been observed. High concentrations and many different species were found in areas of human activities and in areas receiving direct pollutants from the city. This study revealed that multidrug resistant (MDR) pathogenic bacteria are found in Lake Hawassa. There is a possibility of outbreak of diseases associated with the isolated antibiotic-resistant pathogens for which the antibiotic resistance genes are transportable within aquatic bacterial communities. We recommend that the city administration take care of the municipal wastewater or effluents from healthcare facilities that enter the lake. It is also recommended that the government take steps to control anthropogenic activities near the water body.


Download data is not yet available.


Flor-Yazmín RC, Josée H, Adriana-Cecila MF, Abraham LM, Alma-Lilián GB, Francisco-Javier AG. Antimicrobial resistance: the role of aquatic environments Int J Curr Res Accad Rev 2014; 2(7): 231–46.

Megan B, Ellen J, David M. Occurrence of multiple antibiotic resistant bacteria in aquatic environments in central Minnesota. Am J Undergrad Res 2015; 12(3): 19–35. doi: 10.33697/ajur.2015.012

Delgado-Gardea MC, Tamez-Guerra P, Gomez-Flores R, Zavala-Díaz de la Serna FJ, Eroza-de la Vega G, Nevárez-Moorillón GV. Multidrug-resistant bacteria isolated from surface water in Bassaseachic Falls National Park, Mexico. Int J Environ Res Public Health 2016; 13(6): 597. doi: 10.3390/ijerph13060597

Hamelin K, Bruant G, El-Shaarawi A, Hill S, Edge TA, Fairbrother J. Occurrence of virulence and antimicrobial resistance genes in Escherichia coli isolates from different aquatic ecosystems within the St. Clair River and Detroit River areas. Appl Environ Microbiol 2007; 73(2): 477–84. doi: 10.1128/AEM.01445-06

Ha NY, Seo JK, Joo-Hyon K, Young-Sik H, Sung MC, Seung WL. Occurrence of antibiotic resistant E. coli in surface water: a study in a typical urban watershed, Korea. Water Pract Technol 2010; 5: 1–10. doi: 10.2166/wpt.2010.056

Aayushi M, Sunil B, Rutuja D, Gajbhiye SN, Syed G. Occurrence and distribution of multiple antibiotic-resistant bacteria of Enterobacteriaceae family in waters of Veraval coast, India. Environ Exp Biol 2014; 12: 43–50.

Jalal K, Akbar JB, Kamaruzzaman BY, Kathiresan K. Emergence of antibiotic resistant bacteria from coastal environment – a review. In: Pana M, ed. Antibiotic resistant bacteria – a continuous challenge in the new millennium. Croatia, Rijeka: InTech; 2012, p. 3–14.

Korzeniewska E, Korzeniewska A, Harnisz M. Antibiotic resistant Escherichia coli in hospital and municipal sewage and their emission to the environment. Ecotoxicol Environ Saf 2013; 91: 96–102. doi: 10.1016/j.ecoenv.2013.01.014

Conte D, Palmeiro JK, Keite da Silva Nogueira, Rosa de Lima TM, Cardoso MA, Pontarolo R, et al. Characterization of CTX-M enzymes, quinolone resistance determinants, and antimicrobial residues from hospital sewage, wastewater treatment plant, and river water. Ecotoxicol Environ Saf 2017; 136: 62–9. doi: 10.1016/j.ecoenv.2016.10.031

Elisabet M, Juan J, Jose LB. Prevalence of antibiotic resistance genes and bacterial community composition in a river influenced by a wastewater treatment plant. PLoS One 2013; 8(10): e78906. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0078906

Silva J, Castillo G, Callejas L, López H, Olmos J. Frequency of transferable multiple antibiotic resistance amongst coliform bacteria isolated from a treated sewage effluent in Antofagasta, Chile. Electron J Biotechnol 2006; 9: 534–540. doi: 10.2225/vol9-issue5-fulltext-7

Madikizela ML, Tavengwa NT, Chimuka L. Status of pharmaceuticals in African water bodies: occurrence, removal and analytical methods. J Environ Manage 2017; 193: 211–20. doi: 10.1016/j.jenvman.2017.02.022

Hong PY, AL-Jassim N, Ansari M, Mackie R. Environmental and public health implications of water reuse: antibiotics, antibiotic resistant bacteria, and antibiotic resistance genes. Antibiotics 2013; 2(3): 367–99. doi: 10.3390/antibiotics2030367

Mulamattathil SG, Bezuidenhout C, Mbewe M, Ateba CN. Isolation of environmental bacteria from surface and drinking water in Mafikeng, South Africa, and characterization using their antibiotic resistance profiles. J Pathog 2014; 2014: 11. doi: 10.1155/2014/371208

Daniel S, Yonas M. Assessing the effect of land use change on the hydraulic regime of Lake Awassa. Nile Basin Water Sci Eng J 2010; 3(2): 110–8.

Nigatu W, Øystein B, Havard T. GIS based mapping of land cover changes utilizing multi-temporal remotely sensed image data in Lake Hawassa Watershed, Ethiopia. Environ Monit Assess 2014; 186: 1765–80. doi: 10.1007/s10661-013-3491-x

Gessesse D, Carl C. Forest decline and its causes in the south-central rift valley of Ethiopia: human impact over one hundred year perspective. Ambio 2008; 37(4): 263–71. doi: 10.1579/0044-7447(2008)37[263:FDAICI]2.0.CO;2

Magiorakos A-P, Srinivasan A, Carey RB, Carmeli Y, Falagas M E, Giske CG, et al. Multidrug-resistant, extensively drug-resistant and pandrug-resistant bacteria: an international expert proposal for interim standard definitions for acquired resistance. CMI 2012; 18(3): 268–81. doi: 10.1111/j.1469-0691.2011.03570.x

Admassu D, Ahlgren I. Growth of juvenile tilapia Oreochromis niloticus L. from Lakes Zwai, Langano and Chamo (Ethiopian Rift Valley) based on otolith microincrement analysis. Ecol Freshw Fish 2000; 9: 127–37. doi: 10.1111/j.1600-0633.2000.eff090301.x

Tudorancea C, Zinabu GM, Dadebo E. Limnology in Ethiopia. Limnol Dev Ctries 1999; 2: 63–118.

Breuil C. Review on the fisheries and aquaculture sector: Ethiopia. FAO Fisheries Circular. No 890. Rome: FAO; 1995, 29p.

Kebede E, Gebre-Mariam Z, Ahlgren I. The Ethiopian Rift valley lakes: chemical characteristics of a salinity-alkalinity series. Hydrobiologia 1994; 288: 1–12. doi: 10.1007/BF00006801

APHA. Compendium of methods for the microbiological examination of foods. Vanderzant C, Splittstoesser DF, eds. 3rd edn. Washington, DC: APHA; 1992. Inc. ISBN 0-87553173-3.

CLSI. Performance standards for antimicrobial disk susceptibility tests. 13th Edition. CLSI Standard M-02. Wayne PA: Clinical and Laboratory Standards Institute; 2018.

Nwachukwu S. Enhanced rehabilitation of tropical aquatic environment polluted with crude petroleum using Candida utilis. J Environ Biol 2000; 21: 241–50.

Holt JG, Krieg NR, Sneath PHA, Staley JT, Williams ST. Bergey’s manuel of determinative bacteriology. 9th edn. Baltimore, MD: Williams and Wilkins; 1994, p. 787.

Bakare AA, Lateef A, Amuda OS, Afolabi RO. The Aquatic toxicity and characterization of chemical and microbiological constituents of water samples from Oba River, Odo-oba, Nigeria. Asian J Microbiol Biotechnol Environ Sci 2003; 5: 11–7.

Coyne MS, Howell JM. The fecal coliform/fecal streptococci ratio (FC/FS) and water quality in the bluegrass region of Kentucky. Soil Sci News Views 1994; 15.

Gunaseelan C, Ruban P. Antibiotic resistance of bacteria from Krishna Godavari Basin, Bay of Bengal, India. Environ Exp Biol 2011; 9: 133–6.

WHO, Future trends in veterinary public health. World Health Organ Tech Rep Ser 2002; 907: 1–85.

Abhirosh C, Suson PS, Thomas AP, Mohamed H, Asit M. Survival of multi-drug resistant enteropathogenic Escherichia coli and Salmonella paratyphi in Vembanadu lake as a function of saltwater barrier along southwest coast of India. J Water Health 2013; 11(2): 324–32. doi: 10.2166/wh.2013.221

Ha-Na Y, Seo-Jin Ki, Joo-Hyon K, Young-Sik H, Sung MC, Seung WL, et al. Occurrence of antibiotic resistant E. coli in surface water: a study in a typical urban watershed, Korea. Water Pract Technol 2010; 5(10): 1–10.

Qian Y, Dongmei Y, Yuke P, Ying L, Lin X. Occurrence and distribution of antibiotic-resistant bacteria and transfer of resistance genes in lake Taihu. Microbes Environ 2013; 28(4): 479–86. doi: 10.1264/jsme2.ME13098

Al-Bahry S, Mahmoud I, Elshfie A, Al-Harthy A, Al-Ghafri S, Al-Amri Iet al. Bacterial flora and antibiotic resistance from eggs of green turtles Chelonia myans: an indication of polluted effluents. Mar Pollut Bull 2009; 58(5): 720–5. doi: 10.1016/j.marpolbul.2008.12.018

Zbigniew M, Piotr S. Frequency of antibiotic resistance in bacteria inhabiting water of downtown pond. Słupsk, Poland: Baltic Coastal Zone; 2009, p. 135–46.

Voolaid V, Joers A, Kisand V, Tenson T. Co-occurrence of resistance to different antibiotics among aquatic bacteria. BMC Microbiol 2012; 12: 225. doi: 10.1186/1471-2180-12-225

Juan S, Gabriela C, Lorena C, Héctor L, Janet O. Frequency of transferable multiple antibiotic resistance amongst coliform bacteria isolated from a treated sewage effluent in Antofagasta, Chile. Electron J Biotechnol 2006; 9(5): 533–40. doi: 10.2225/vol9-issue5-fulltext-7



How to Cite

Daka, D., Beyene, H., & Dires, S. (2021). Spatial and temporal distribution of faecal indicators and multidrug resistant bacteria in a multiple-use freshwater lake: the case of Lake Hawassa, Ethiopia. International Journal of Infection Control, 17(1).



Original Articles