Faecal contamination poses health risks for the recreational users of urban estuaries. However, our understanding of the potential pathogenicity of faecal microbes in these environments is limited. To this end, a study was conducted to understand the spatial and seasonal distribution of Salmonella in water and sediments of the Yarra River estuary, Melbourne, Australia. Among 210 samples in total, culturable Salmonella were recovered from 27%, 17%, and 19% of water, bank, and bed sediment samples, respectively. The combined detection increased from 15% in winter to 32% in summer (p < 0.05) indicating seasonal variation as potential part of public health risk assessments. Further, pathogenic potential of the Salmonella isolates was characterised via the quantification of attachment and invasion capacity using human epithelial colorectal cell line Caco-2 on a subset of isolates (n = 62). While all of these isolates could attach and invade Caco-2 cells, 52% and 13% of these showed greater attachment and invasiveness, respectively, than the corresponding mean values for S. Typhimurium ATCC14028 control. Isolates from winter were on average more invasive (seven out of eight isolates with the highest invasiveness recovered from the colder sampling period) than the isolates from summer, and Salmonella collected during summer showed lower invasion (p < 0.05) compared with the control. Similar low invasion compared with the same control was observed for isolates recovered from bank sediment (p < 0.05). While the higher prevalence in summer may imply higher risks during these peak recreational periods, it is essential that this information is used in combination with quantitative microbial risk assessments to fully understand the health risks posed by Salmonella in microtidal estuaries.
- Caco-2, sediment
- Faecal pathogen
- Salmonella enterica serovar Typhimurium
- Yarra River