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Detection of coliphages and human adenoviruses in a subtropical estuarine lake

Cooksey, Emily M., Singh, Gulshan, Scott, Laura C., Aw, Tiong Gim
The Science of the total environment 2019 v.649 pp. 1514-1521
Enterococcus, Mastadenovirus, coliphages, environmental protection, estuaries, fecal bacteria, genes, geometry, harvesting, humans, indicator species, lakes, microbial detection, monitoring, most probable number technique, pathogens, public health, quantitative polymerase chain reaction, recreation areas, risk, seafoods, septic systems, suburban areas, wastewater treatment, watersheds, Louisiana
Fecal indicator bacteria (FIB) have been used to assess fecal contamination in recreational water. However, enteric viruses have been shown to be more persistent in the environment and resistant to wastewater treatment than bacteria. Recently, U.S Environmental Protection Agency has proposed the use of coliphages as viral indicators to better protect against viral waterborne outbreaks. This study aimed to detect and determine correlation between coliphages (F-specific and somatic), fecal indicator bacteria (enterococci and fecal coliforms), and human enteric viruses (human adenovirus) in a subtropical brackish estuarine lake. Water samples were collected from 9 estuarine recreation sites on Lake Pontchartrain in southeast Louisiana. Water samples (n = 222, collected weekly) were analyzed for coliphages and fecal indicator bacteria using culture-based methods and large volume water samples (n = 54, collected monthly) were analyzed for human adenovirus using quantitative PCR. Somatic coliphage and F-specific coliphage were found in 93.7 and 65.2% of samples with geometric mean concentrations of 30 and 3 plaque forming units (PFU) per 100 mL, respectively. Enterococci, fecal coliforms, and adenovirus were found in all samples with geometric mean concentrations of 27 most probable number (MPN), 77 MPN, and 3.0 × 104 gene copies per 100 mL, respectively. Watersheds in suburban areas exhibited significantly higher concentrations of coliphages and fecal indicator bacteria, indicating potential fecal contamination from septic systems. There was no significant correlation (p > 0.05) observed between the presence of adenoviruses and fecal indicator bacteria and coliphages. The presence of human adenovirus in Lake Pontchartrain poses a significant public health problem for both recreational use and seafood harvesting as it increases exposure risks. This study demonstrated the lack of relationship between fecal indicators and human viral pathogen in Lake Pontchartrain supporting an alternative microbial surveillance system such as direct pathogen detection.