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Detection and Enumeration of Pathogens and Indicator Organisms

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Pathogenic microorganisms are routinely discharged to collection systems throughout the world along with a myriad of commensal organisms, organic and inorganic wastes. It is not surprising then that the density of any given pathogen is relatively small in relationship to the population of microorganisms found in a sample of domestic wastewater. Low densities of specific pathogens along with high densities of other microoganisms provides a challenge for those seeking to detect pathogenic strains and ultimately to accurately determine their numbers. Indicator organisms have long been used to evaluate water quality and imply the presence of pathogenic microbes. This presentation describes commonly used microbial indicators, why they were initially selected for water quality evaluations and how they are currently used. It also looks at some recent work on a specific pathogenic strain of Escherichia coli and some of the implications from that work.


Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: October 1, 2007

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  • Proceedings of the Water Environment Federation is an archive of papers published in the proceedings of the annual Water Environment Federation® Technical Exhibition and Conference (WEFTEC® ) and specialty conferences held since the year 2000. These proceedings are not peer reviewed.

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