Science Inventory

RARE OCCURRENCE OF HETEROTROPHIC BACTERIA WITH PATHOGENIC POTENTIAL IN POTABLE WATER

Citation:

Stelma Jr., G N., D J. Lye, B G. Smith, AND J W. Messer. RARE OCCURRENCE OF HETEROTROPHIC BACTERIA WITH PATHOGENIC POTENTIAL IN POTABLE WATER. Presented at NSF International/WHO Symposium on HPC Bacteria in Drinking Water, Geneva, Switzerland, April 22-24, 2002.

Impact/Purpose:

Develop data for use in assessing the efficacy of the in vitro virulence tests in predicting pathogenicity of heterotrophic bacteria and in assessing risk of infection by opportunistic pathogens in potable water and to attempt to identify possible opportunistic pathogens among the heterotrophic bacteria that occur in drinking water, while determining the influence of type of source water or treatment technology on the occurrence of opportunistic pathogens.

Description:

Since the discovery of Legionella pneumophila, an opportunistic pathogen that is indigenous to water, microbiologists have speculated that there may be other opportunistic pathogens among the numerous heterotrophic bacteria found in potable water. The USEPA developed a series of rapid in vitro assays to assess the virulence potential of large numbers of bacteria from potable water to possibly identify currently unknown pathogens. Results of surveys of potable water from several distribution systems using these tests showed that only 50 of the approximately 10,000 bacterial colonies expressed one or more virulence characteristics. In another study, 45 potable water isolates that were isolated from granular activated carbon filters and expressed multiple virulence factors were tested for pathogenicity in immunocompromised mice. None of the isolates infected mice that were compromised either by treatment with carrageenan, to induce susceptibility to facultative intracellular pathogens, or by cyclophosphamide, to induce susceptibility to extracellular pathogens. These results indicate that there are very few potential pathogens in potable water and that the currently developed in vitro virulence screening tests give an overestimation of the numbers of heterotrophic bacteria that may be pathogens. Current efforts are focused on using the animal models to screen concentrated samples of waters known to contain large numbers of heterotrophic bacteria and newly discovered Legionella-like organisms that parasitize amoebae.

Record Details:

Record Type: DOCUMENT (PRESENTATION/PAPER)
Product Published Date: 04/22/2002
Record Last Revised: 06/21/2006
Record ID: 63791

Organization:

U.S. ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY

OFFICE OF RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT

NATIONAL EXPOSURE RESEARCH LABORATORY

MICROBIOLOGICAL AND CHEMICAL EXPOSURE ASSESSMENT DIVISION

MICROBIAL EXPOSURE RESEARCH BRANCH