Human enteroviruses in oysters and their overlying waters

S. M. Goyal, C. P. Gerba, J. L. Melnick

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The presence of enteroviruses in oysters and oyster-harvesting waters of the Texas Gulf coast was monitored over a period of 10 mth. Viruses were detected in water and oyster samples obtained from areas both open and closed to shellfish harvesting. Viruses were detected periodically in waters that met current bacteriological standards for shellfish harvesting. No significant statistical relationship was demonstrated between virus concentration in oysters and the bacteriological and physicochemical quality of water and shellfish. Viruses in water were, however, moderately correlated with total coliforms in water and oysters and with fecal coliforms in oysters. Total coliforms in water were related to total coliforms and fecal coliforms in oysters and to fecal coliforms in water. Fecal coliforms in sediment were related only to total coliforms in sediment. Among the physicochemical characteristics of water, turbidity was related statistically to the organic matter content of water and to fecal coliforms in water. There was a marked effect of rainfall on the bacteriological quality of water. Of a total of 44 water samples, 26 yielded virus in concentrations from 4 to 167 plaque-forming units per 100-gallon (ca. 378.5-liter) sample. Of a total of 40 pools of 10 to 12 oysters each, virus was found in 14 pools at a concentration of 6 to 224 plaque-forming units per 100 g of oyster meat. On 5 occasions, virus was found in oysters but not in the overlying water. Similarly, viruses were isolated from 17 water samples when no virus could be detected in oysters harvested from the same sites. This study indicates that current bacteriological standards for determining the safety of shellfish and shellfish-growing waters do not reflect the occurrence of enteroviruses.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)572-581
Number of pages10
JournalApplied and environmental microbiology
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1979


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