Quantitative detection of hepatitis A virus and enteroviruses near the United States-Mexico border and correlation with levels of fecal indicator bacteria

Richard M. Gersberg, Michael A. Rose, Refugio Robles-Sikisaka, Arun K. Dhar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

39 Scopus citations


For decades, untreated sewage flowing northward from Tijuana, Mexico, via the Tijuana River has adversely affected the water quality of the recreational beaches of San Diego, California. We used quantitative reverse transcription-PCR to measure the levels of hepatitis A virus (HAV) and enteroviruses in coastal waters near the United States-Mexico border and compared these levels to those of the conventional fecal indicators, Escherichia coli and enterococci. Over a 2-year period from 2003 to 2005, a total of 20 samples were assayed at two sites during both wet and dry weather: the surfzone at the mouth of the Tijuana River and the surfzone near the pier at Imperial Beach (IB), California (about 2 km north of the mouth of the Tijuana River). HAV and enterovirus were detected in 79 and 93% of the wet-weather samples, respectively. HAV concentrations in these samples ranged from 105 to 30,771 viral particles/liter, and enterovirus levels ranged from 7 to 4,417 viral particles/liter. The concentrations of HAV and enterovirus were below the limit of detection for all dry weather samples collected at IB. Regression analyses showed a significant correlation between the densities of both fecal bacterial indicators and the levels of HAV (R 2 > 0.61, P < 0.0001) and enterovirus (R2 > 0.70, P < 0.0001), a finding that supports the use of conventional bacterial indicators to predict the levels of these viruses in recreational marine waters.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)7438-7444
Number of pages7
JournalApplied and environmental microbiology
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 1 2006
Externally publishedYes


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Food Science
  • Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology
  • Ecology

Cite this