Arcobacter in Lake Erie beach waters: an emerging gastrointestinal pathogen linked with human-associated fecal contamination

Appl Environ Microbiol. 2012 Aug;78(16):5511-9. doi: 10.1128/AEM.08009-11. Epub 2012 Jun 1.


The genus Arcobacter has been associated with human illness and fecal contamination by humans and animals. To better characterize the health risk posed by this emerging waterborne pathogen, we investigated the occurrence of Arcobacter spp. in Lake Erie beach waters. During the summer of 2010, water samples were collected 35 times from the Euclid, Villa Angela, and Headlands (East and West) beaches, located along Ohio's Lake Erie coast. After sample concentration, Arcobacter was quantified by real-time PCR targeting the Arcobacter 23S rRNA gene. Other fecal genetic markers (Bacteroides 16S rRNA gene [HuBac], Escherichia coli uidA gene, Enterococcus 23S rRNA gene, and tetracycline resistance genes) were also assessed. Arcobacter was detected frequently at all beaches, and both the occurrence and densities of Arcobacter spp. were higher at the Euclid and Villa Angela beaches (with higher levels of fecal contamination) than at the East and West Headlands beaches. The Arcobacter density in Lake Erie beach water was significantly correlated with the human-specific fecal marker HuBac according to Spearman's correlation analysis (r = 0.592; P < 0.001). Phylogenetic analysis demonstrated that most of the identified Arcobacter sequences were closely related to Arcobacter cryaerophilus, which is known to cause gastrointestinal diseases in humans. Since human-pathogenic Arcobacter spp. are linked to human-associated fecal sources, it is important to identify and manage the human-associated contamination sources for the prevention of Arcobacter-associated public health risks at Lake Erie beaches.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Arcobacter / isolation & purification*
  • Bacterial Load
  • Bathing Beaches
  • Cluster Analysis
  • DNA, Bacterial / chemistry
  • DNA, Bacterial / genetics
  • Fresh Water / microbiology*
  • Humans
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Ohio
  • Phylogeny
  • Real-Time Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Sequence Analysis, DNA


  • DNA, Bacterial

Associated data

  • GENBANK/JQ302194
  • GENBANK/JQ302195
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