Relationships between environmental factors, bacterial indicators, and the occurrence of enteric viruses in estuarine sediments

R. L. LaBelle, C. P. Gerba, S. M. Goyal, J. L. Melnick, I. Cech, G. F. Bogdan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

76 Scopus citations


Current standards for evaluation of the public health safety of recreational and shellfish-harvesting waters are based upon bacteriological analysis, but do not include an evaluation of the number of viruses. The objective of this study was to determine the occurrence of enteric viruses in estuarine sediments and to find a relationship, if any, between the presence of viruses in seawater or sediment or both and various biological and physicochemical characteristics of the environment. Viruses were found in greater numbers in sediment than in overlying seawater on a volume basis. Several types of enteroviruses were isolated: coxsackievirus types A16, B1, and B5, echovirus type 1, and poliovirus type 2. On several occasions, viruses were isolated from sediments when overlying seawaters met bacteriological water quality standards for recreational use. Statistical analysis of the relationship between viruses in seawater or in sediment and other variables measured yielded only one significant association: the number of viruses in sediment was found to be positively correlated with the number of fecal coliforms in sediment. No other physical, chemical, or biological characteristic of seawater or sediment that was measured showed statistically significant association with viral numbers. No correlation was found between bacterial indicators and virus in the overlying waters. The data indicated that evaluation of the presence of bacteria and viruses in sediment may provide additional insight into long-term water quality conditions and that indicator bacteria in water are not reflective of the concentration of enteric viruses in marine waters.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)588-596
Number of pages9
JournalApplied and environmental microbiology
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1980

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Food Science
  • Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology
  • Ecology


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