The inactivation of Campylobacter jejuni and Salmonella enterica, compared with Escherichia coli, was determined in 100 l chambers of seawater and river water located at an outdoor site. The chambers (paired with dark controls) were seeded with waste stabilization pond effluent and laboratory-cultured pathogens, and exposed to sunlight in summer and winter experiments. All sunlight inactivation (kS) rates, as a function of cumulative global solar radiation (insolation), were far higher than the corresponding dark (kD) rates, with a ranking (and average kS rates for seawater and river water, respectively) of: C. jejuni (3.23; 2.34)>S. enterica (0.51; 0.37)>E. coli (0.34; 0.26). All the T90 (time to 90% inactivation) values were higher in winter than in summer, but there was far greater similarity between the summer and winter S90 (insolation needed for 90% inactivation) values. The rapid inactivation of C. jejuni was attributed to a high susceptibility to photooxidative damage. The results suggest that, in sunlight-exposed waters, E. coli will be a more conservative indicator for C. jejuni than for S. enterica, and C. jejuni transmission as a pathogenic agent is less likely than for S. enterica.

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