Household health assessment and associated water sample analysis in the Miches watershed of the Dominican Republic

Darien Genevieve Clary, The University of Texas School of Public Health


Background. Diarrhea and malnutrition are the leading causes of mortality for children age one to four in the Dominican Republic. Communities within the Miches watershed lack sanitation infrastructure and water purification systems, which increases the risk of exposure to water-borne pathogens. The purpose of this cross-sectional study was to analyze health information gathered through household interviews and to test water samples for the presence of diarrheagenic pathogens and antibiotic-resistant bacteria within the Miches watershed. Methods. Frequency counts and thematic analysis were used to investigate Human Health Survey responses and Fisher's exact test was used to determine correlation between water source and reported illness. Bacteria cultured from water samples were analyzed by Gram stain, real-time PCR, API® 20E biochemical identification, and for antibiotic resistance. Results. Community members reported concerns about water sources with respect to water quality, availability, and environmental contamination. Pathogenic strains of E. coli were present in the water samples. Drinking aquifer water was positively-correlated with reported stomach aches (p=0.04) while drinking from rivers or creeks was associated with the reported absence of “gripe” (cold or flu) (p=0.01). The lack of association between reported illnesses and water source for the majority of variables suggested that there were multiple vehicles of disease transmission. Antibiotic resistant bacteria were isolated from the water samples tested. Conclusions. The presence of pathogenic E. coli in water samples suggested that water is at least one route of transmission for diarrheagenic pathogens in the Miches watershed. The presence of antibiotic-resistant bacteria in the water samples may indicate the proliferation of resistance plasmids in the environment as a result of antibiotic overuse in human and animal populations and a lack of sanitation infrastructure. An intervention that targets areas of hygiene, sanitation, and water purification is recommended to limit human exposure to diarrheagenic pathogens and antibiotic-resistant organisms.

Subject Area

Microbiology|Public health|Environmental science

Recommended Citation

Clary, Darien Genevieve, "Household health assessment and associated water sample analysis in the Miches watershed of the Dominican Republic" (2008). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI1454562.