Bacteriophages as indicators of human and animal faecal contamination in raw and treated wastewaters from Tunisia

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We aimed at quantifying bacteriophages in raw and treated wastewaters of human and animal origin in Tunisia to assess their usefulness for tracking the origin of faecal pollution and in the follow-up of effectiveness of water treatments process.

Methods and Results:

The concentrations of bacteriophages in wastewater samples were determined by double layer agar technique. Somatic coliphages and F-specific RNA bacteriophages were present in all types of samples in high concentrations. The values of Escherichia coli were variable depending on geographical location. On the other hand, bacteriophages infecting strain GA17 were detected preferably when human faecal contamination was occurred.


Bacteriophages appear as a feasible and widely applicable manner to detect faecal contamination in Tunisia. On the other hand, phages infecting GA17 could be good markers for tracking the origin of faecal pollution in the area studied.

Significance and Impact of the Study:

The reuse of treated wastewaters can be a solution to meet the needs of water in the geographical area of study. Bacteriophages seem to predict differently the presence of faecal contamination in water than bacterial indicators. Consequently, they can be a valuable additional tool to improve water resources management for minimizing health risks.

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