Faecal indicator organism

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Terms & Synonyms

Official WHO Definition

Bacteria normally present in large numbers in faeces whose presence above standard levels is viewed as a sign that levels of all bacteria from faeces are too high (WHO 2001).

Other Definitions


Interpretations and Explanations

Faecal indicator organisms are regarded as an indicator of the presence of more dangerous bacteria from faeces. They are present in large numbers in the faeces of humans and animals, detected by simple methods, do not grow in natural waters, and their removal by water treatment is similar to waterborne pathogens. Escherichia coli and to a lesser extent thermotolerant coliform bacteria are common faecal indicator organisms (WHO 2001).


WHO (2001) Water quality: Guidelines, standards and health: assessment of risk and risk management for water-related infectious disease

WHO Lexicon page (translations and examples)

See also

External Resources


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