A rapid method, quantitative polymerase chain reaction (qPCR), for quantifying indicator bacteria in recreational waters is desirable for public health protection. We report that replacing current Escherichia coli standards with new US Environmental Protection Agency beach action values (BAVs) for enterococci by culture or qPCR may result in more advisories being posted at inland recreational lakes. In this study, concentrations of E. coli and enterococci by culture methods were compared to concentrations of Enterococcus spp. by qPCR at 3 inland lake beaches in Ohio. The E. coli and enterococci culture results were significantly related at all beaches; however, the relations between culture results and Enterococcus spp. qPCR results were not always significant and differed among beaches. All the qPCR results exceeded the new BAV for Enterococcus spp. by qPCR, whereas only 23.7% of culture results for E. coli and 79% of culture results for enterococci exceeded the current standard for E. coli or BAV for enterococci.
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Comparing rapid and culture indicator bacteria methods at inland lake beaches