Quantification of multiple waterborne pathogens in drinking water, drainage channels, and surface water in Kampala, Uganda, during seasonal variation

Nora J. Sadik, Sital Uprety, Amina Nalweyiso, Nicholas Kiggundu, Noble E. Banadda, Joanna L. Shisler, Thanh H. Nguyen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Longitudinal water quality monitoring is important for understanding seasonal variations in water quality, waterborne disease transmission, and future implications for climate change and public health. In this study, microfluidic quantitative polymerase chain reaction (MFQPCR) was used to quantify genes from pathogens commonly associated with human intestinal infections in water collected from protected springs, a public tap, drainage channels, and surface water in Kampala, Uganda, from November 2014 to May 2015. The differences in relative abundance of genes during the wet and dry seasons were also assessed. All water sources tested contained multiple genes from pathogenic microorganisms, with drainage channels and surface waters containing a higher abundance of genes as compared to protected spring and the public tap water. Genes detected represented the presence of enterohemorrhagic Escherichia coli, Shigella spp., Salmonella spp., Vibrio cholerae, and enterovirus. There was an increased presence of pathogenic genes in drainage channels during the wet season when compared to the dry season. In contrast, surface water and drinking water sources contained little seasonal variation in the quantity of microbes assayed. These results suggest that individual water source types respond uniquely to seasonal variability and that human interaction with contaminated drainage waters, rather than direct ingestion of contaminated water, may be a more important contributor to waterborne disease transmission. Furthermore, future work in monitoring seasonal variations in water quality should focus on understanding the baseline influences of any one particular water source given their unique complexities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)258-269
Number of pages12
Issue number6
StatePublished - Aug 2017


  • enteric
  • pathogen
  • seasonality
  • water

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Global and Planetary Change
  • Epidemiology
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Pollution
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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