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ARS Home » Midwest Area » Madison, Wisconsin » U.S. Dairy Forage Research Center » Environmentally Integrated Dairy Management Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #410711

Research Project: Managing Nutrients and Assessing Pathogen Emission Risks for Sustainable Dairy Production Systems

Location: Environmentally Integrated Dairy Management Research

Title: Health risk from waterborne human and livestock pathogens during swimming, kayaking, and fishing

item Burch, Tucker
item STOKDYK, JOEL - Us Geological Survey (USGS)
item FIRNSTAHL, AARON - Us Geological Survey (USGS)
item Opelt, Sarah
item Cook, Rachel
item Heffron, Joseph
item BROWN, AMANDA - Polk County Conservation
item HRUBY, CLAIRE - Drake University
item Borchardt, Mark

Submitted to: Meeting Abstract
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 2/21/2024
Publication Date: N/A
Citation: N/A

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: Many recreational waterways can become contaminated by pathogens from humans and livestock. These pathogens cause acute gastrointestinal illness (AGI) when ingested during recreational water use, but prevailing levels of health risk for many sites and activities are unknown. We assessed risks posed to recreators during swimming and limited contact activities like kayaking and fishing for six sites on rivers in the Des Moines, Iowa metropolitan area. Water samples (n = 147) collected over two years were tested for a variety of waterborne pathogens, and AGI risk was estimated using quantitative microbial risk assessment (QMRA). Risk estimates varied from 1 to 83 AGI cases per 1,000 recreators depending on site and activity. Swimming risk for two sites exceeded USEPA’s 2012 acceptable risk benchmark of 36 AGI cases per 1,000 recreators. Risk estimates for other sites and limited contact activities were generally below the benchmark. Risk was examined relative to the presence of human, cow, pig, and bird feces using microbial source tracking to provide insights about the sources of elevated health risk; risk was highest when multiple fecal sources were present. Elevated concentrations of the fecal indicator E. coli did not always match periods of elevated AGI risk determined by QMRA. Results inform risk mitigation initiatives at the sites studied and provide context for understanding risk associated with similar activities and sites in Wisconsin and other Midwest states.