Enterococci as indicators of Lake Michigan recreational water quality: comparison of two methodologies and their impacts on public health regulatory events

You are viewing information about the paper Enterococci as indicators of Lake Michigan recreational water quality: comparison of two methodologies and their impacts on public health regulatory events.

Journal: Appl Environ Microbiol 2003/01/07
Published: 2003
Authors: Kinzelman, J.;Ng, C.;Jackson, E.;Gradus, S.;Bagley, R.
Address: City of Racine Health Department Laboratory, Racine, Wisconsin 53403, USA. jkinzelman@cityofracine.org

The frequency of poor-water-quality advisories issued in Milwaukee and Racine, Wisconsin, in the absence of identifiable sources of contamination brought into question the reliability of the present indicator organism, Escherichia coli. Enteroccoci have been suggested as an alternative to E. coli for freshwater monitoring due to their direct correlation to swimmer-associated gastroenteritis. The purpose of this research was threefold: (i) to explore enterococci as an alternative to E. coli for monitoring freshwater Lake Michigan beaches, (ii) to evaluate the impact of the two indicators on regulatory decisions, and (iii) to compare membrane filtration m-enterococcus agar with indoxyl-beta-D-glucoside to a chemical substrate technique (Enterolert) for the recovery of enterococci. Recreational water samples from Milwaukee (n = 305) and Racine (n = 153) were analyzed for the enumeration of E. coli and enterococci using IDEXX Colilert-18 and Enterolert. Correlation between the indicators was low (R(2) = 0.60 and 0.69). Based on U.S. Environmental Protection Agency bacterial indicator threshold levels of risk for full body immersion, using enterococci would have resulted in 56 additional unsafe-recreational-water-quality advisories compared to the total from using E. coli and the substrate-based methods. A comparison of the two enterococcal methods (n = 124) yielded similar results (R(2) = 0.62). This was further confounded by the frequent inability to verify enterococci from those wells producing fluorescence by the defined substrate test using conventional microbiological methods. These results suggest that further research is necessary regarding the use of defined substrate technology interchangeably with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency-approved membrane filtration test for the detection of enterococci from fresh surface water.

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