Microbial Load From Animal Feces at a Recreational Beach

Mar Pollut Bull. 2009 Nov;58(11):1649-56. doi: 10.1016/j.marpolbul.2009.07.003. Epub 2009 Aug 6.


The goal of this study was to quantify the microbial load (enterococci) contributed by the different animals that frequent a beach site. The highest enterococci concentrations were observed in dog feces with average levels of 3.9 x 10(7) CFU/g; the next highest enterococci levels were observed in birds averaging 3.3 x 10(5)CFU/g. The lowest measured levels of enterococci were observed in material collected from shrimp fecal mounds (2.0 CFU/g). A comparison of the microbial loads showed that 1 dog fecal event was equivalent to 6940 bird fecal events or 3.2 x 10(8) shrimp fecal mounds. Comparing animal contributions to previously published numbers for human bather shedding indicates that one adult human swimmer contributes approximately the same microbial load as one bird fecal event. Given the abundance of animals observed on the beach, this study suggests that dogs are the largest contributing animal source of enterococci to the beach site.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bathing Beaches*
  • Birds
  • Colony Count, Microbial
  • Dogs
  • Enterococcus / isolation & purification*
  • Environmental Monitoring
  • Feces / microbiology*
  • Geologic Sediments / microbiology*
  • Penaeidae