Assessment of Bacterial Contamination in Herbal Medicine Products Vended in Morogoro Municipality, Tanzania
Traditional medicines are widely used in Tanzania; however, the microbiological safety of herbal medicine products (HMPs) is unknown. A cross-sectional study was conducted to determine microbial levels and antimicrobial susceptibility of bacteria isolated from HMPs vended in Morogoro Municipality. Fifty samples of HMPs were collected from vendors in six wards in the municipality. Bacterial contamination was determined through total viable count and bacterial isolation while susceptibility to the selected antimicrobials was determined by agar disc diffusion method. About 88% of the tested HMPs significantly (p<0.05) had higher total bacterial counts than WHO recommended levels. Ten percent of HMPs were contaminated with the pathogenic E. coli and 8% with S. aureus. The isolated bacteria were only susceptible to ciprofloxacin but were resistant to the rest of the tested antimicrobials at standard doses. Unhygienic handling practices and limited safety knowledge by the HMPs vendors was also observed. Use of the unregulated but vended HMPs may put the users at risk of acquiring infections with pathogenic and antimicrobial resistant bacteria that portends increased treatment challenges.