Aims: Freshwater fish has been found to be the reservoir of Laribacter hongkongensis, a recently discovered bacterium associated with community-acquired gastroenteritis. However, little is known about the ecology of this bacterium in the aquatic environment. We carried out a surveillance study to investigate the presence of L. hongkongensis in water and freshwater fish from 10 drinking water reservoirs in Hong Kong.
Methods and results: Using membrane filtration, L. hongkongensis was isolated from the waters of six reservoirs, with numbers ranging from 1 to 12 CFU l(-1). Higher recovery rates were observed in summer and during days of higher water and ambient temperatures. Of 27 freshwater fish collected from the reservoirs, L. hongkongensis was recovered from the intestines of two fish, a Goldfish and a Nile tilapia. Overall, 35 different pulsed-field gel electrophoresis patterns are found among the 59 isolates recovered from water and the two isolates from freshwater fish.
Conclusions: The present report represents the first to demonstrate the presence of L. hongkongensis in natural water environments.
Significance and impact of the study: Although it is unlikely that treated, drinking water is an important source of L. hongkongensis-associated gastroenteritis, one should be aware of the possibility of other contaminated water as a source of human infection.