Human and Bovine Viruses and Bacteria at Three Great Lakes Beaches: Environmental Variable Associations and Health Risk

Environ Sci Technol. 2016 Jan 19;50(2):987-95. doi: 10.1021/acs.est.5b04372. Epub 2015 Dec 31.


Waterborne pathogens were measured at three beaches in Lake Michigan, environmental factors for predicting pathogen concentrations were identified, and the risk of swimmer infection and illness was estimated. Waterborne pathogens were detected in 96% of samples collected at three Lake Michigan beaches in summer, 2010. Samples were quantified for 22 pathogens in four microbial categories (human viruses, bovine viruses, protozoa, and pathogenic bacteria). All beaches had detections of human and bovine viruses and pathogenic bacteria indicating influence of multiple contamination sources at these beaches. Occurrence ranged from 40 to 87% for human viruses, 65-87% for pathogenic bacteria, and 13-35% for bovine viruses. Enterovirus, adenovirus A, Salmonella spp., Campylobacter jejuni, bovine polyomavirus, and bovine rotavirus A were present most frequently. Variables selected in multiple regression models used to explore environmental factors that influence pathogens included wave direction, cloud cover, currents, and water temperature. Quantitative Microbial Risk Assessment was done for C. jejuni, Salmonella spp., and enteroviruses to estimate risk of infection and illness. Median infection risks for one-time swimming events were approximately 2 × 10(-5), 8 × 10(-6), and 3 × 10(-7) [corrected] for C. jejuni, Salmonella spp., and enteroviruses, respectively. Results highlight the importance of investigating multiple pathogens within multiple categories to avoid underestimating the prevalence and risk of waterborne pathogens.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bacteria / isolation & purification*
  • Bacteria / pathogenicity
  • Bathing Beaches
  • Campylobacter jejuni / isolation & purification
  • Campylobacter jejuni / pathogenicity
  • Cattle
  • Enterovirus / isolation & purification
  • Enterovirus / pathogenicity
  • Environmental Monitoring
  • Great Lakes Region
  • Humans
  • Lakes / microbiology*
  • Lakes / virology*
  • Risk Assessment / methods
  • Salmonella / isolation & purification
  • Salmonella / pathogenicity
  • Seasons
  • Viruses / isolation & purification*
  • Viruses / pathogenicity
  • Water Microbiology