Sediments and water from the spring and slough arm of Spring Lake, the pristine headwaters of the San Marcos River, Texas, were analyzed for Salmonellae by culture and molecular techniques before and after three major precipitation events, each with intermediate dry periods. Polymerase chain reaction (PCR)-assisted analyses of enrichment cultures detected Salmonellae in samples after all three precipitation events, but failed to detect them immediately prior to the rainfall events. Detection among individual locations differed with respect to the precipitation event analyzed, and strains isolated were highly variable with respect to serovars. These results demonstrate that rainwater associated effects, most likely surface runoff, provide an avenue for short-term pollution of aquatic systems with Salmonellae that do not, however, appear to establish for the long-term in water nor sediments.

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