Conventional methodologies of fecal indicator bacteria (FIB) enumeration provide no information as to the origins of microbial pollution of source waters or to the different types of host sources, animal or human, that contribute to this type of pollution. Therefore, this research focuses
on evaluating human specific genetic markers of Enterococcus faecium and Bacteroides by using qPCR to assess these markers applicability to quantitatively determining human sources of fecal pollution in the Philadelphia watershed. Preliminary results show high sensitivity and
specificity of both markers for human fecal sources of pollution indicating that their presence insource water bodies is a good indicator of potentially elevated exposure risk to human pathogens. The Bacteroides marker was found in higher concentrations in influent, secondary and effluentwaste
water treatment plant samples analyzed than the Enterococcus faecium marker even after 3 weeks of storage at 4°C. Additional samples of known human and nonhuman host origins are currently being assayed for further evaluation of these markers'.
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