Author(s): Pfeffer CS, Hite MF, Oliver JD
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Abstract While several studies on the ecology of Vibrio vulnificus in Gulf Coast environments have been reported, there is little information on the distribution of this pathogen in East Coast waters. Thus, we conducted a multiyear study on the ecology of V. vulnificus in estuarine waters of the eastern United States, employing extensive multiple regression analyses to reveal the major environmental factors controlling the presence of this pathogen, and of Vibrio spp., in these environments. Monthly field samplings were conducted between July 2000 and April 2002 at six different estuarine sites along the eastern coast of North Carolina. At each site, water samples were taken and nine physicochemical parameters were measured. V. vulnificus isolates, along with estuarine bacteria, Vibrio spp., Escherichia coli organisms, and total coliforms, were enumerated in samples from each site by using selective media. During the last 6 months of the study, sediment samples were also analyzed for the presence of vibrios, including V. vulnificus. Isolates were confirmed as V. vulnificus by using hemolysin gene PCR or colony hybridization. V. vulnificus was isolated only when water temperatures were between 15 and 27 degrees C, and its presence correlated with water temperature and dissolved oxygen and vibrio levels. Levels of V. vulnificus in sediments were low, and no evidence for an overwintering in this environment was found. Multiple regression analysis indicated that vibrio levels were controlled primarily by temperature, turbidity, and levels of dissolved oxygen, estuarine bacteria, and coliforms. Water temperature accounted for most of the variability in the concentrations of both V. vulnificus (47\%) and Vibrio spp. (48\%).
This article was published in Appl Environ Microbiol
and referenced in Fisheries and Aquaculture Journal