African Journal of
Microbiology Research

  • Abbreviation: Afr. J. Microbiol. Res.
  • Language: English
  • ISSN: 1996-0808
  • DOI: 10.5897/AJMR
  • Start Year: 2007
  • Published Articles: 5210

Full Length Research Paper

Microbial pollution of the Mezam river system and its health impact in Bamenda (North-West Cameroon)

TITA Margaret Awah1*, MAGHA Alice1 and KAMGANG KABEYENE Véronique Beyala2
1Higher Teacher Training College, University of Bamenda, P. O. Box 39, Bambili, Cameroon. 2Higher Teacher Training College, University of Yaounde I, P. O. Box 47, Yaounde, Cameroon.
Email: [email protected]

  •  Accepted: 20 September 2013
  •  Published: 18 October 2013


A two-year study was carried out from June 2009 to May 2011 to investigate the microbial quality of the Mezam river system in Bamenda and its health impact, given the prevalence of waterborne diseases among the population who use the river water for various purposes, notably domestic and agricultural activities. River, spring and tap water samples were collected monthly and analysed quantitatively for faecal bacteria indicators of pollution and qualitatively for specific pathogens. The study shows that most of the sites were heavily polluted with faecal bacteria (12 to 2822 cfu/100 ml) that consistently exceeded the WHO recommended range for potability. These bacteria often comprised the pathogens Salmonella and Shigella which seemed to be endemic. They all tended to be highest in the dry season and at the onset of the rainy season. The incidence of waterborne diseases showed a seasonal pattern similar to the seasonality of the causative agents in water samples. The most impaired segments were the Ayaba and Mughed tributaries which receive inputs from urban and domestic activities, as well as the Nkimefeu tributary which receives direct waste discharge from the dressing of carcasses at the town slaughter house. The population which is dependent on the river water are thus exposed to health risks which could be reduced by minimizing the discharge of both liquid and solid wastes into water channels.


Key words: Faecal bacteria, market gardening, pathogens, river pollution, wastewater.