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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Water sources as reservoirs of Vibrio cholerae O1 and non-O1 strains in Bepanda, Douala (Cameroon): relationship between isolation and physico-chemical factors

Jane-Francis Tatah Kihla Akoachere12* and Christelle Kwedjeu Pulcherie Mbuntcha1

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Microbiology and Parasitology, Faculty of Science, University of Buea, Buea, Cameroon

2 Laboratory for Emerging Infectious Diseases, Faculty of Science, University of Buea, Buea, Cameroon

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BMC Infectious Diseases 2014, 14:421  doi:10.1186/1471-2334-14-421

Published: 30 July 2014



Cholera has been endemic in Douala since 1971. Most outbreaks start from Bepanda, an overcrowded neighbourhood with poor hygiene and sanitary conditions. We investigated water sources in Bepanda as reservoirs of Vibrio cholerae, the causative agent of cholera, determined its antibiotic susceptibility and some physico-chemical characteristics that could maintain the endemicity of this organism in Bepanda.


Three hundred and eighteen water samples collected from 45 wells, 8 taps and 1 stream from February to July 2009 were analyzed for V. cholerae using standard methods. Isolates were characterized morphologically, biochemically and serologically. The disc diffusion technique was employed to investigate antibiotic susceptibility. Differences in prevalence of organism between seasons were analysed. Correlation strength and direction of association between physico-chemical parameters and occurrence of V. cholerae was analyzed using the Kendall tau_b non-parametric correlation. This was further confirmed with the forward-stepwise binary logistic regression.


Eighty-seven (27.4%) samples were positive for V. cholerae. Isolation was highest from wells. The organism was isolated in the rainy season and dry season but the frequency of isolation was significantly higher (χ2 = 7.009, df = 1, P = 0.008) in the rainy season. Of the 96 confirmed V. cholerae isolates, 32 (33.3%) belonged to serogroup O1 and 64 (66.6%) were serogroup non-O1/non-O139. Isolates from tap (municipal water) were non-O1/non-O139 strains. Salinity had a significant positive correlation with isolation in the dry season (+0.267, P = 0.015) and rainy season (+0.223, P = 0.028). The forward-stepwise method of binary logistic regression indicated that as pH (Wald = 11.753, df = 1), P = 0.001) increased, odds of isolation of V. cholerae also increased (B = 1.297, S.E = 0.378, Exp(B) = 3.657). All isolates were sensitive to ciprofloxacin and ofloxacin. Multi-drug resistance was predominant among the non-O1/non-O139 isolates.


V. cholerae was found in wells and stream in both seasons. Cholera will continue to be a health threat in Bepanda if intervention measures to prevent outbreak are not implemented. Continuous monitoring of water sources in this and other cholera high-risk areas in Cameroon is necessary, for a better preparedness and control of cholera.

Cholera; Water contamination; Serogoup O1; Serogroup non-1/non-O139; Physico-chemical factors; Antibiotic susceptibility