Campylobacter is an important cause of gastrointestinal illness and exposure to recreational water is one potential source of infection. The objective of this study was to investigate the presence and concentrations of Campylobacter, and determine the influence of agricultural activities and precipitation on their presence, at lake beaches used for water recreation in southern Quebec, Canada. A total of 413 water samples were collected from June to August, from 22 beaches, between 2011 and 2013. The overall proportion of positive water samples was estimated to be 33.9% (95% CI: 27.7, 40.1) for C. jejuni and 49.7% (95% CI: 41.8, 57.6) for Campylobacter spp. The concentrations of both thermotolerant Campylobacter spp. and C. jejuni ranged from 20 to 900 bacteria/L of water. Logistic regressions showed that the presence of C. jejuni and Campylobacter spp. was significantly associated with the year and season. Other significant predictors of C. jejuni, but not Campylobacter spp., included the presence of precipitation the day before sampling and the presence of ruminant farms within a 5 km radius of the beach. The present study provides insights into the risk of Campylobacter presence in recreational lake water for better understanding public health risks.

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