The public health implications of pathogens in polluted aquatic ecosystems: a review

  • A.J. Francis
  • B.J. Oribhabor
Keywords: Public health, pathogens, pollution, aquatic ecosystem


Pathogen contamination in water sources and related diseases constitute major water quality concern throughout the world. Aquatic environments near cities are usually prone to over-loading with a variety of pollutants through direct or indirect discharges. The problem is undoubtedly worse in developing world where there is higher public exposure to sources of pathogenic water contamination. Notable sources include domestic waste, industrial effluents, agricultural waste, ballast water discharge, inadequate sanitation and personal hygiene. Pathogen with its disease causing potential constitutes public health threat such as diseases breakout, risk of spread of pathogen related infections, loss of aquatic biodiversity, scarcity of public water supply and most importantly, increased rate of human mortality. Several researches in many regions of the world have reported pathogenic contamination of water to be responsible for most illnesses related to respiratory, gastrointestinal and dermatological systems, and accounts for high mortality records in many countries including Nigeria, with greater prevalence among children and pregnant women. Pathogenic bacteria, viruses, protozoan, or parasites are basically excreted in faeces or urine from infected animals, including humans. Control measure is basically by mitigation through improved sanitation/hygiene, surveillance, risk assessment study, infrastructural development, improved agricultural practices, laws, regulations, policies and public awareness/education. This review raises awareness and discusses the public health implications of pathogens in polluted aquatic ecosystems and control of public health problems associated with pathogens.

Keywords: Public health, pathogens, pollution, aquatic ecosystem


Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 0795-0101