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Enteric pathogens and soil: a short review


It is known that soil is a recipient of solid wastes able to contain enteric pathogens in high concentrations. Although the role of soil as a reservoir of certain bacterial pathogens is not in question, recent findings show that soil may have a larger role in the transmission of enteric diseases than previously thought. Many of the diseases caused by agents from soil have been well characterized, although enteric diseases and their link to soil have not been so well studied. Gastrointestinal infections are the most common diseases caused by enteric bacteria. Some examples are salmonellosis (Salmonella sp.), cholera (Vibrio cholerae), dysentery (Shigella sp.) and other infections caused by Campylobacter jejuni, Yersinia sp. and Escherichia coli O157:H7 and many other strains. Viruses are the most hazardous and have some of the lowest infectious doses of any of the enteric pathogens. Hepatitis A, hepatitis E, enteric adenoviruses, poliovirus types 1 and 2, multiple strains of echoviruses and coxsackievirus are enteric viruses associated with human wastewater. Among the most commonly detected protozoa in sewage are Entamoeba histolytica, Giardia intestinalis and Cryptosporidium parvum. This article reviews the existing literature of more than two decades on waste disposal practices that favor the entry of enteric pathogens to soil and the possible consequent role of the soil as a vector and reservoir of enteric pathogens.

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Correspondence to Gary A. Toranzos.

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Santamaría, J., Toranzos, G.A. Enteric pathogens and soil: a short review. Int Microbiol 6, 5–9 (2003).

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  • Soil-borne diseases
  • Enteric pathogens
  • Enteric disease
  • Enteric disease outbreaks
  • Solid waste disposal