The introduction of nonnative oysters (i.e., Crassostrea ariakensis) into the Chesapeake Bay has been proposed as necessary for the restoration of the oyster industry; however, nothing is known about the public health risks related to contamination of these oysters with human pathogens. Commercial market-size C. ariakensis triploids were maintained in large marine tanks with water of low (8-ppt), medium (12-ppt), and high (20-ppt) salinities spiked with 1.0 × 105 transmissive stages of the following human pathogens: Cryptosporidium parvum oocysts, Giardia lamblia cysts, and microsporidian spores (i.e., Encephalitozoon intestinalis, Encephalitozoon hellem, and Enterocytozoon bieneusi). Viable oocysts and spores were still detected in oysters on day 33 post-water inoculation (pwi), and cysts were detected on day 14 pwi. The recovery, bioaccumulation, depuration, and inactivation rates of human waterborne pathogens by C. ariakensis triploids were driven by salinity and were optimal in medium- and high-salinity water. The concentration of human pathogens from ambient water by C. ariakensis and the retention of these pathogens without (or with minimal) inactivation and a very low depuration rate provide evidence that these oysters may present a public health threat upon entering the human food chain, if harvested from polluted water. This conclusion is reinforced by the concentration of waterborne pathogens used in the present study, which was representative of levels of infectious agents in surface waters, including the Chesapeake Bay. Aquacultures of nonnative oysters in the Chesapeake Bay will provide excellent ecological services in regard to efficient cleaning of human-infectious agents from the estuarine waters.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Food Science
- Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology