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International Journal of Microbiology
Volume 2011 (2011), Article ID 798292, 13 pages
Review Article

Megacities as Sources for Pathogenic Bacteria in Rivers and Their Fate Downstream

Helmholtz Center for Infection Research, Chemical Microbiology, Inhoffenstrasse 7, 38124 Braunschweig, Germany

Received 14 May 2010; Revised 9 July 2010; Accepted 19 July 2010

Academic Editor: Jorge H. Leitao

Copyright © 2011 Wolf-Rainer Abraham. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Poor sanitation, poor treatments of waste water, as well as catastrophic floods introduce pathogenic bacteria into rivers, infecting and killing many people. The goal of clean water for everyone has to be achieved with a still growing human population and their rapid concentration in large cities, often megacities. How long introduced pathogens survive in rivers and what their niches are remain poorly known but essential to control water-borne diseases in megacities. Biofilms are often niches for various pathogens because they possess high resistances against environmental stress. They also facilitate gene transfers of antibiotic resistance genes which become an increasing health problem. Beside biofilms, amoebae are carriers of pathogenic bacteria and niches for their survival. An overview about our current understanding of the fate and niches of pathogens in rivers, the multitude of microbial community interactions, and the impact of severe flooding, a prerequisite to control pathogens in polluted rivers, is given.