thumbnail

Incidence of the enterococcal surface protein (esp) gene in human and animal fecal sources

Environmental Science and Technology

By:
, , ,
DOI: 10.1021/es070817t

Links

Abstract

The occurrence of the enterococcal surface protein (esp) gene in the opportunistic pathogens Enterococcus faecalis and E. faecium is well-documented in clinical research. Recently, the esp gene has been proposed as a marker of human pollution in environmental waters; however, information on its relative incidence in various human and animal fecal sources is limited. We have determined the occurrence of the esp gene in enterococci from human (n = 64) and animal (n = 233) fecal samples by polymerase chain reaction using two primer sets: one presumably specific for E. faecium (espfm) and the other for both E. faecalis and E. faecium (espfs/fm). We believe that this research is the first to explore the use of espfs/fm for the detection of human waste in natural environmental settings. The incidence in human sources was 93.1% espfm and 100% espfs/fm in raw sewage influent; 30% for both espfm and espfs/fm in septic waste; and 0% espfm and 80% espfs/fm in active pit toilets. The overall occurrence of the gene in animal feces was 7.7% (espfs/fm) and 4.7% (espfm); animal types with positive results included dogs (9/43, all espfm), gulls (10/34, espfs/fm; 2/34, espfm), mice (3/22, all espfs/fm), and songbirds (5/55, all espfs/fm). The esp gene was not detected in cat (0/34), deer (0/4), goose (0/18), or raccoon (0/23) feces. The inconsistent occurrence, especially in septic and pit toilet sewage, suggests a low statistical power of discrimination between animal and human sources, which means a large number of replicates should be collected. Both espfm and espfs/fm were common in raw sewage, but neither one efficiently differentiated between animal and other human sources.

Additional Publication Details

Publication type:
Article
Publication Subtype:
Journal Article
Title:
Incidence of the enterococcal surface protein (esp) gene in human and animal fecal sources
Series title:
Environmental Science and Technology
DOI:
10.1021/es070817t
Volume
41
Issue:
17
Year Published:
2007
Language:
English
Contributing office(s):
Great Lakes Science Center
Larger Work Type:
Article
Larger Work Subtype:
Journal Article
First page:
6090
Last page:
6095
Number of Pages:
6