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Research Article Open Access
Microbiological controls of coastal seawaters are a common practice to verify their safety for human recreational and productive uses. The aim of the present study is to describe the microbiological conditions of the Castellammare Gulf (Trapani, Sicily), an area traditionally used for aquaculture purposes. Particularly, the results obtained from three surveys (1993-1995, 2000-2001 and 2007) are compared in order to depict how the hygienic-sanitary conditions of this marine ecosystem have evolved over time. Attention has been given to the abundance and distribution of the bacterial indicators of faecal pollution (faecal coliforms, enterococci and Salmonella spp.) as well as halophilic vibrios, using the culture methods conventionally indicated by current legislation in force for the sanitary control of waters designed for aquaculture productions. The obtained results shows that the sanitary conditions of seawater samples met the criteria recommended by current legislations for shellfish farming approved areas. The low concentrations of faecal pollution indicators and of halophilic vibrios confirm the general suitability of the Gulf of Castellammare for seafood production. Nevertheless, the detection of low percentages of potentially pathogenic species of halophilic vibrios stresses the importance of extending microbiological controls also to these emerging pathogens.