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J Appl Bacteriol. 1990 Nov;69(5):758-64.

Thermophilic campylobacters in surface waters around Lancaster, UK: negative correlation with Campylobacter infections in the community.

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  • 1Institute of Environmental and Biological Sciences, Lancaster University, UK.


The incidence of campylobacter enteritis in Lancaster City Health Authority is three times the UK average for similar sizes of population and has marked seasonal peaks in May and June. Environmental monitoring of surface waters around Lancaster showed that thermophilic campylobacters were absent from drinking water from the fells and from the clean upper reaches of the River Conder but were present in the main rivers entering Morecambe Bay, the lower reaches of the River Conder, the Lancaster canal, and seawater from the Lune estuary and Morecambe Bay. All the surface waters tested showed the same seasonality, namely, higher numbers in the winter months and low numbers or none in May, June and July. The absence of thermophilic campylobacters in the summer months may be due to high sunshine levels because experiments on the effects of light showed that campylobacters in sewage effluent and seawater were eliminated within 60 and 30 min of daylight respectively but survived for 24 h in darkness. As the concentrations of campylobacters in surface waters were at their lowest precisely at the time of peak infections in the community it is unlikely that surface waters form Lancaster's reservoir of campylobacter infection for the community.

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