Iwona Gołaś  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., Anna Gotkowska-Plachta 

Department of Water Protection Engineering and Environmental Microbiology, University of Warmia and Mazury in Olsztyn, 10-720 Olsztyn, Poland

Received: August 1, 2023
Revised: November 24, 2023
Accepted: January 29, 2024

 Copyright The Author(s). This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY 4.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are cited.

Download Citation: ||https://doi.org/10.4209/aaqr.230183  

Cite this article:

Gołaś, I., Gotkowska-Plachta, A. (2024). Fountain Water as a Source of Opportunistic Escherichia coli and Aeromonas hydrophila Strains in Atmospheric Air. Aerosol Air Qual. Res. https://doi.org/10.4209/aaqr.230183


  • Opportunistic bacteria in fountain water contributed to the contamination of air.
  • The E. coli and A. hydrophila in air showed high values of the MAR index.
  • The opportunistic strains in air samples pointed to a high risk of human infection.
  • The fountains are hot spots for the transmission of antibiotic-resistant strains.


The aim of this study was to determine the effect of fountain water on the contamination of atmospheric air with opportunistic Escherichia coli and Aeromonas hydrophila, and to evaluate the resulting health risks to humans. The counts of bacteria, their resistance to eight antibiotics, the multiple antibiotic resistance (MAR) index, and the minimum inhibitory concentrations (MICs) of ciprofloxacin (CIP) and tetracycline (TE) were determined in samples of air collected in the immediate vicinity of fountains (A0) and at a distance of 20 m (A20), and in samples of water (W) collected from five fountains. The counts of E. coli and A. hydrophila were highest in bioaerosols (A0), and they were 10–100 times lower in A20 samples. Most E. coli and A. hydrophila strains isolated from air samples were resistant to CIP, TE, ampicillin (AMP), and trimethoprim/sulfamethoxazole (SXT), and 6.7–46.2% of the isolates exhibited multidrug resistance. The values of the MAR index were high in all air samples and similar to those noted in fountain water isolates (0.86–0.87). In total, 17–75% of E. coli and A. hydrophila strains isolated from A0 and A20 samples were resistant to high doses of CIP and TE. Agglomerative clustering revealed five clusters of strains isolated from atmospheric air (A0, A20) and fountain water. The results indicate that fountains can be a source of atmospheric air contamination with potentially pathogenic E. coli and A. hydrophila bacteria.

Keywords: Atmospheric air, Water fountain, Potentially pathogenic bacteria, Multiple antibiotic resistance (MAR), Minimum inhibitory concentration (MIC)

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