Title: Identification and Enumeration of Pathogenic Bacteriophages in the Waters Surrounding Presque Isle State Park
Project Type: Research
Start Date: 03/01/2006
End Date: 02/28/2007
Congressional District: 3rd
Focus Categories: Methods, Non Point Pollution, Water Quality
Keywords: bacteriophage, water pathogens, aquatic ecosystem, human health, novel methodology
Principal Investigator: Mauro, Steven A.
Federal Funds: $17,916
Non-Federal Matching Funds: $59,003
Abstract: According to a 2004 census from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), 4,096 beach notification actions were issued from 28 coastal States and Puerto Rico to warn the public of potentially unsafe bacterial levels in swimming waters (www.epa.gov). Bacterial contamination of drinking/swimming water is a pandemic problem that accounts for a large percentage of the 1.8 million water-borne deaths and illness reported to the World Health Organization (WHO) annually (www.who.int). Strikingly, a large proportion of these ailments are the result of infection of bacteria by a bacteriophage that produces toxins that are pathogenic to humans. Despite the intimate link between the presence of bacteriophages in water to human illness, little work has been done to identify and quantify pathogenic bacteriophages to accurately gauge how safe a particular water sample is for human consumption and/or occupancy. This grant application seeks funding to perform these types of studies in swimming waters in the vicinity of Presque Isle State Park in Erie, Pennsylvania, an area that has been shown to possess high bacterial loads and contaminated sediments. The specific goals of this grant are to: 1.) Identify and quantify pathogenic and other bacteriophages in the beach waters of Presque Isle State Park, 2.) Determine sources of non-point pollution of these beach waters by sampling inlet streams in a similar manner, 3.) Establish methodologies to reduce the current turnover time between sampling water and reporting results from 24 hours to less than 4 hours. Since these beach waters are utilized recreationally by approximately 4 million pedestrians annually, the impact of these studies should not only contribute to our knowledge of pathogenic virioplankton in beach waters, but could be utilized to reform current methods that determine beach water quality in an effort to increase human safety.
Progress/Completion Report, PDF