Bacterial contaminants of Vhuswa--a traditional maize-based weaning food, and domestic drinking-water stored in impoverished rural households in Venda of Limpopo province, South Africa, were determined. One hundred and twenty-five samples of Vhuswa fed to children aged less than five years were assessed for Escherichia coli, Campylobacter jejuni, Salmonella, and Shigella. The microbiological quality of 125 drinking-water samples was also evaluated using total coliforms, faecal coliforms, and faecal streptococci as indicators. The frequency of isolation of E. coli, Salmonella, Shigella, and C. jejuni from the Vhuswa samples was 70%, 5%, 5%, and 2% respectively. The geometric mean counts of total coliforms, faecal coliforms, and faecal streptococci in tap-water stored in household containers ranged from 4.9x10(2) to 5.8x10(3) cfu 100 mL(-1), 2.6x10(2) to 3.7x10(3) cfu 100 mL(-1), and 3.1x10(3) to 5.8x10(3) cfu 100 mL(-1) respectively, and for stored spring water it was 5.1x10(3) cfu 100 mL(-1), 3.2x10(3) cfu 100 mL(-1), and 5.1x10(3) cfu 100 mL(-1) respectively. The frequent contamination of water and food samples in this study has important implications for the health of children from impoverished communities.
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