Seasonal distribution and prevalence of diarrheagenic Escherichia coli in different aquatic environments in Taiwan

Wen Chien Huang, Bing Mu Hsu*, Po Min Kao, Chi Wei Tao, Ying Ning Ho, Chun Wei Kuo, Yu Li Huang

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal Article peer-review

17 Scopus citations


Diarrheagenic Escherichia coli (DEC) are the most common agents of diarrhea. Waterborne DEC could pose a potential health risk to human through agricultural, household, recreational, and industrial use. There are few published reports on the detection of DEC and its seasonal distribution in aquatic environments. The presence of DEC in different types of aquatic environments was investigated in this study. Water samples were collected from major rivers, water reservoirs, and recreational hot springs throughout Taiwan. Moreover, an intensive water sampling plan was carried out along Puzih River. The detection of DEC target genes was used to determine the presence of enterotoxigenic E. coli (ETEC), enteropathogenic E. coli (EPEC), and Shiga toxin-producing E. coli (STEC). Among the 383 water samples analyzed, DEC was found in 122 (31.8%) samples. The detection rate varied by genotype, raging from 3.6% for STEC to 17.2% for EPEC. The DEC detection rate was higher from river waters than reservoirs and hot springs. In addition, DEC was detected at a higher rate in spring and summer. The presence of EPEC was significantly associated with total coliform levels among hot spring samples. Moreover, the presence of ETEC in river water samples was associated with heterotrophic plate counts. Water with EPEC differed significantly in pH from Puzih River samples. These results suggest that seasonal characteristics may affect the presence of DEC in different aquatic environments, and water quality indicators may be indicative of the presence of DEC.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)37-41
Number of pages5
JournalEcotoxicology and Environmental Safety
StatePublished - 01 02 2016
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015 Elsevier Inc.


  • Diarrheagenic E. coli
  • Heterotrophic plate count
  • Seasonal distribution
  • Total coliform


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