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South African Journal of Science

On-line version ISSN 1996-7489
Print version ISSN 0038-2353


SSEMAKALU, Cornelius C.; LE ROUX, Woulter  and  PILLAY, Michael. Impact of solar irradiation on cholera toxin secretion by different strains of Vibrio cholerae. S. Afr. j. sci. [online]. 2013, vol.109, n.9-10, pp.01-06. ISSN 1996-7489.

Cholera toxin is the aetiological agent of cholera - a deadly waterborne disease acquired through the consumption of untreated water contaminated with CTXO bacteriophage harbouring strains of V. cholerae. Solar disinfection is a re-emerging technique that relies on the ultraviolet component of sunlight to inactivate the growth of Vibrio cholerae in water, rendering the water microbiologically safe for consumption. However, studies have shown that DNA damaging agents, such as ultraviolet light, induce the replication of the CTXO bacteriophage with subsequent expression of the cholera toxin. In this study we investigated the impact of solar irradiation on the secretion of cholera toxin by toxigenic strains of V. cholerae in water. The cholera toxin ELISA assay, qualitative and quantitative real-time PCR as well as growth on solid media were used to determine cholera toxin secretion, DNA integrity and growth of the bacteria after 7 h and 31 h of solar irradiation. Solar irradiation in water reduced the integrity of DNA, inactivated the growth of V. cholerae and, most importantly, prevented the secretion of detectable levels of cholera toxin. This finding is encouraging for resource-poor communities that may rely on solar disinfection to alleviate the burden of cholera-related fatalities.

Keywords : solar disinfection; SODIS; cholera; cholera toxin; Vibrio cholerae.

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