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Study in Colo-i-Suva Indicates Presence of Harmful Bacteria

Study in Colo-i-Suva Indicates Presence of Harmful Bacteria
USP student research projects found extreme levels of faecal coliforms in Colo-i-Suva’s lower pool following the weekend. Photo: Kogo Fujiki
October 07
11:00 2017


Results from recent research projects conducted by the University of the South Pacific students warn of the potential presence of harmful bacteria in Colo-i-Suva Forest Park.

For the last two years, students from USP’s School of Marine Studies have conducted tests on the bathing pools in the popular park, with tests demonstrating concerning levels of faecal coliforms in the water.

“We have always found levels above the established limits for uses of those waters for recreational activity,” USP School of Marine Studies deputy head of school, Professor Marta Ferreira said.

“If they are above those levels that means people should not bathe in those waters because it can be harmful.”

Professor Ferreira said the research projects measure faecal coliforms introduced by warm-blooded animals, which provide an indication that there are potentially harmful bacteria in the water.

The most recent study from the School of Marine Studies was conducted in April– it found the level of faecal coliforms in Colo-i-Suva’s lower pool was around 4,000 colonies per 100 ml of water – 20 times more than the recommended level.

According to Professor Ferreira, if faecal coliform counts are high (over 200 colonies per 100 ml of a water sample), there is a greater chance that disease or illness-causing organisms are also present.

This puts people at greater risk of developing gastro diseases from swallowing disease-causing organisms, or from pathogens entering the body through the nose, ear, mouth and cuts in the skin.

“Faecal coliforms by themselves are not pathogens, but they could be an indicator of other pathogens that could be related,” Professor Ferreira said.

“Even though these ones do not introduce disease, usually they occur with other ones that will introduce diseases.”

Professor Ferreira said the faecal coliform levels “come and go” depending on certain variables, including the weather, temperature and how many people have used the water.

“The park should let people know about the quality of the water – mainly during the weekends and do that type of assessment because the results are pretty straight-forward and easy to get in 24 hours,” she said.

“This type of monitoring should be done regularly.”

Colo-i-Suva Forest Park manager, Lasaruna Turaga said organisations conduct regular testing, “especially the University of the South Pacific”.

But USP’s Institute of Applied Science, home to the university’s only microbiology laboratory, confirmed it had never conducted tests on the public pools at Colo-i-Suva Forest Park.

Professor Ferreira said that besides her students’ research projects, she was also not sure if any other regular testing was conducted.

“I don’t know if Colo-i-Suva has those types of regular measurements being done,” she said.

“If they don’t, they should have it conducted by a certified lab.”

Mr Turaga was unavailable to provide further comment on the nature of current water testing at Colo-I-Suva Forest Park.

Edited by Mohammed Ali



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