Reliable indicators are needed to detect enteric virus contamination of bivalve molluscan shellfish and their harvest waters. Concentrations of male-specific (F+) coliphages, Bacteroides fragilis phages, Salmonella phages and several indicator bacteria in wastewater, estuarine receiving water and its oysters were examined for their ability to predict the presence and levels of faecal contamination and enteric viruses in oysters. Enteric viruses in oysters were detected by cell culture and RT-PCR methods. F+ coliphages, Salmonella phages, B fragilis phages and faecal indicator bacteria (faecal coliforms, E coli, enterococci and Clostridium perfringens) were generally positively associated and were highest in raw sewage and progressively lower in sewage effluent and in receiving waters at increasing distance from the wastewater discharge. Indicator levels in oysters were highest for F+ coliphages and C perfringens. One F+ RNA coliphage serotype (Group II) predominated in the wastewater, receiving water and oysters. Human enteric viruses were detected in 17/31 oyster samples. The levels of most indicators in oysters and water were higher when oysters were enteric virus-positive and lower when oysters were enteric virus-negative. F+ coliphages and C perfringens were the only indicators significantly associated with the presence of enteric viruses in oysters. F+ coliphages and their serotypes are promising indicators of human enteric virus contamination in oysters and their harvest waters.

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