Relationships among bather density, levels of human waterborne pathogens, and fecal coliform counts in marine recreational beach water

Thaddeus K. Graczyk, Deirdre Sunderland, Grace N. Awantang, Yessika Mashinski, Frances E. Lucy, Zofi Graczyk, Lidia Chomicz, Patrick N. Breysse

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

43 Scopus citations


During summer months, samples of marine beach water were tested weekly for human waterborne pathogens in association with high and low bather numbers during weekends and weekdays, respectively. The numbers of bathers on weekends were significantly higher than on weekdays (P<0.001), and this was associated with a significant (P< 0.04) increase in water turbidity. The proportion of water samples containing Cryptosporidium parvum, Giardia duodenalis, and Enterocytozoon bieneusi was significantly higher (P<0.03) on weekends than on weekdays, and significantly (P<0.01) correlated with enterococci counts. The concentration of all three waterborne pathogens was significantly correlated with bather density (P<0.01). The study demonstrated that: (a) human pathogens were present in beach water on days deemed acceptable for bathing according to fecal bacterial standards; (b) enterococci count was a good indicator for the presence of Cryptosporidium, Giardia, and microsporidian spores in recreational marine beach water; (c) water should be tested for enterococci during times when bather numbers are high; (d) re-suspension of bottom sediments by bathers caused elevated levels of enterococci and waterborne parasites, thus bathers themselves can create a non-point source for water contamination; and (e) exposure to recreational bathing waters can play a role in epidemiology of microsporidiosis. In order to protect public health, it is recommended to: (a) prevent diapered children from entering beach water; (b) introduce bather number limits to recreational areas; (c) advise people with gastroenteritis to avoid bathing; and (d) use showers prior to and after bathing.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1103-1108
Number of pages6
JournalParasitology Research
Issue number5
StatePublished - Apr 2010

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Parasitology
  • General Veterinary
  • Insect Science
  • Infectious Diseases


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