Campylobacter jejuni is considered one of the most common causes of gastroenteritis in the world. Although, the GI illness caused by this bacterium is self-limiting, the post-infection complications that follow the gastroenteritis are rather serious. To estimate the prevalence of this bacterium in the environment, both culture and qPCR techniques were performed on water samples collected from Lake Michigan beaches (Otumba , Sunset and Whitefish Dunes beaches) and Lake Winnebago beach (Menominee beach). The mean concentrations of the pathogen target sequences (C. jejuni) and the fecal indicator bacteria (enterococci) were found to be 2,136.33 CFU;;s and 257,383 CFU;;s per 100mL of water from Menominee Park beach. The concentrations of C. jejuni were above the minimum number to cause infection (500 organisms) at Otumba, and Sunset beaches and below the minimum number at Whitefish Dunes beach. No C. jejuni was detected (except on the June 22nd) when the culture technique was performed but with qPCR the pathogen was detected. Enterococci concentrates were more than 10 fold greater by qPCR when the two methods were compared. We conclude that the qPCR technique has better sensitivity, for detection of bacteria in recreational water than the culture techniques, for both fecal indicator bacteria (FIB) and a pathogen, Campylobacter jejuni.
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USING TRADITIONAL AND MOLERCULAR TECHNIQUES TO QUANTIFY Campylobacter jejuni IN BEACH WATER SAMPLES