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River water contamination can threaten human health because waterborne pathogens in environmental water can expose to humans via recreational activities. In addition, river water is an important source for water consumption in Thailand. Therefore, microbial source tracking has become a crucial method to evaluate the source of fecal contamination, water quality, and to understand the cause of fecal contamination by investigating the treatment ability of surrounding wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs) affecting the river water quality. In this study, 200 Escherichia coli isolates collected at four sampling sites around WWTPs of the Mae Klong River were tested with a human-associated E. coli genetic marker (H8) for evaluation the human fecal pollution in the river. Moreover, water quality parameters were measured at the same sites. The levels of H8 marker detection were also investigated with the ability of WWTPs among four sites along the river. Real-Time PCR was performed on the isolated samples with the H8 marker and the results showed that proportions of positive isolates increased at Mueang Kanchanaburi district (KP1: 46%) and Mueang Ratchaburi district (RP1: 38%). The positive proportions from all sites were significantly different between the locations (p < 0.001). Furthermore, the number of population and wastewater treatment plants capacity were relatively high in those areas (KP1 and RP1). This study showed that the H8 marker can be used as a crucial genetic marker for identifying the human-source contamination in water environment. Furthermore, it can be suggested that management of wastewater treatment system is a key to reduce human fecal pollution for better environmental water quality.
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