In this study, quantitative PCR (qPCR) was used for the detection of four opportunistic bacterial pathogens in water samples collected from 72 rainwater tanks in Southeast Queensland, Australia. Tank water samples were also tested for fecal indicator bacteria (Escherichia coli and Enterococcus spp.) using culture-based methods. Among the 72 tank water samples tested, 74% and 94% samples contained E. coli and Enterococcus spp., respectively, and the numbers of E. coli and Enterococcus spp. in tank water samples ranged from 0.3 to 3.7 log₁₀ colony forming units (CFU) per 100 mL of water. In all, 29%, 15%, 13%, and 6% of tank water samples contained Aeromonas hydrophila, Staphylococcus aureus, Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Legionella pneumophila, respectively. The genomic units (GU) of opportunistic pathogens in tank water samples ranged from 1.5 to 4.6 log₁₀ GU per 100 mL of water. A significant correlation was found between E. coli and Enterococcus spp. numbers in pooled tank water samples data (Spearman's rs = 0.50; P < 0.001). In contrast, fecal indicator bacteria numbers did not correlate with the presence/absence of opportunistic pathogens tested in this study. Based on the results of this study, it would be prudent, to undertake a Quantitative Microbial Risk Assessment (QMRA) analysis of opportunistic pathogens to determine associated health risks for potable and nonpotable uses of tank water.
Keywords: Fecal indicator bacteria; Health risks; Opportunistic pathogens; Quantitative PCR; Roof-captured rainwater.
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