Submitted to: Johns Hopkins University School of Hygiene and Public Health
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: February 27, 2006
Publication Date: March 15, 2006
Citation: Higgins, J.A. 2006. Molecular ecology of waterborne E. coli [abstract]. Johns Hopkins University School of Hygiene and Public Health (JHUSHPH)Environmental Health Sciences Seminar Series, March 15, 2006, Baltimore, MD.
Pathogenic strains of the commensal enteric bacterium E. coli have been implicated in a number of outbreaks of severe diarrheal disease associated with ingestion or exposure to contaminated water. For some of these outbreaks, the source of contamination was linked to livestock maintenance or other agricultural operations. In an effort to better understand the distribution and origin of E. coli bacteria present in fresh and estuarine waters, a five-year, ongoing project involving collaborators from and estuarine water the EMSL in Beltsville, the USDA Forest Service in Catonsville, Maryland, the Baltimore Ecosystem Study, and both public and private university faculty, has been investigating streams in the metropolitan Baltimore, MD region. These streams represent forested, agricultural, and urban watersheds. Molecular biology-based protocols have been created to assist in identifying and characterizing stream water isolates of E. coli. These methods show that E. coli possessing virulence genes can be recovered from all stream types sampled. Pathogenic E. coli are more prevalent in polluted urban stream, than forested or agricultural streams.