Occurrence of thermotolerant Campylobacter spp. and adenoviruses in Finnish bathing waters and purified sewage effluents

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A total of 50 Finnish bathing water samples and 34 sewage effluent samples originating from 17 locations were studied in the summers of 2006 and 2007. Campylobacter were present in 58% and adenoviruses in 12% of all bathing water samples; 53% of all sewage effluent samples were positive for Campylobacter spp. and 59% for adenoviruses. C. jejuni was the most common Campylobacter species found and human adenovirus serotype 41 was the most common identified adenovirus type. Bathing water temperature displayed a significant negative relationship with the occurrence of Campylobacter. One location had identical pulsed-field gel electrophoresis patterns of C. coli isolates in the bathing water and in sewage effluent, suggesting that sewage effluent was the source of C. coli at this bathing site. The counts of faecal indicator bacteria were not able to predict the presence of Campylobacter spp. or adenoviruses in the bathing waters. Thus the observed common presence of these pathogens in Finnish sewage effluents and bathing waters may represent a public health risk. The low water temperature in Finland may enhance the prevalence of Campylobacter in bathing waters. More attention needs to be paid to minimizing the concentrations of intestinal pathogens in bathing waters.

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