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Emerging Gastrointestinal Pathogen Linked With Human Fecal Contamination

A gastrointestinal pathogen associated with fecal contamination was present in 97 of 129 water samples taken from four beaches on the Lake Erie coast of Ohio according to research published in the August issue of Applied and Environmental Microbiology.

Substantial numbers of beach-goers may be sickened by this pathogen, says Jiyoung Lee of The Ohio State University, Columbus, who led the research. "We were actually quite shocked at the strength of the association between human fecal contamination and [the pathogen] Arcobacter," she adds.

There was ample precedent for the findings. In 2004, a major disease outbreak involving wastewater contamination of groundwater occurred at South Bass Island in Lake Erie, just off of the Ohio coast near Sandusky, causing 1,450 to become ill. The authors of a report on that incident stated that Arcobacter "should be considered as one of the emerging waterborne bacterial pathogens, and waters should be further monitored for this bacterium."
 
 

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