FECAL COLIFORM QUESTION -- MARK MECKES
EPA Virologist -- Microbiologist

Fecal coliform is E. coli

For the past 25 years EPA has claimed sludge was safe to use as a fertilizer,
if it only contained low levels of fecal coliform. In 1993, EPA claim that safe
low level of fecal coliform was 1,000 most probable number (MPN) bacteria
per gram for Class A and 2,000,000 MPN per gram for Class B. If the sludge
met these numbers it was biosolids. According to EPA, these fecal coliform
are not disease causing organisms, but instead indicate that disease
causing organisms may be present. EPA has never defined a fecal coliform.
It would appear that no sludge scientist has ever ask, or knows, what a
coliform is.

When ask the question, Dr. Meckes identified the 48 hour test method used
to identify the deadly gram negative family Enterobacteriaceae, then
suggested coliform did not cause diseases.  However, when ask to
specifically identify fecal coliform he acknowledge the 24 hour test was
primarily to identify one member of the deadly  family Enterobacteriaceae,
E. coli.

Without considering the multi-drug resistant injured viable, but
nonculturable gram negative bacteria coming out of the treatment plant, we
have to reconsider the safety of biosolids and part 503 which allows 1,000
mpn of E. coli 0157:H7 in Class A sludge and 2,000,000 mpn of E. coli 0157:H7
in Class B sludge.

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Subject: Re: Rubin's suggestion
Date: 7/16/2007 2:46:07 P.M. Pacific Daylight Time
From: BynJam
Reply To:  
To: Meckes.Mark@epamail.epa.gov
CC: rubinhial@cox.net, FPecar4525, edo_mcgowan@hotmail.com,
hshields@worldpath.net, cgsnyder@post.harvard.edu,
maureen.reilly@sympatico.ca, Cwwms3@wmconnect.com, Fg325, FDaly1880,
Wwanglia, stevens.rick@epa.gov


Dr. Meckes.
Yours was the first study (1982)                    I could find to showed drug resistant
bacteria was coming out of treatment plants. That was a very important study EPA
has ignored and it has gotten much worse. Now, I do believe Alan Rubin set you up
as the fall guy for the whole sludge and reclaimed water debacle. It may be EPA's
position that
coliform don't cause diseases, but the medical literature shows that
fecal coliform as well as coliform bacteria
(family Enterobacteriaceae) are now
serious disease causing organisms.
People are going to be rather pissed when they
find out EPA has lied to them about the danger of exposure to these coliform
. A
partial list is below.

In a message dated 7/16/2007 10:44:11 A.M. Pacific Daylight Time,
Meckes.Mark@epamail.epa.gov writes:

The total coliform group consists of several genera of
bacteria belonging to the family Enterobacteriaceae
Fecal indicator bacteria are used to assess the microbiological quality
of water because
although not typically disease causing, they may be
found in relatively high densities following a pollution event and they
have been (but are not always) detected in concert with some  waterborne
disease-causing (pathogenic) organisms.

In a message dated 7/16/2007 12:53:54 P.M. Pacific Daylight Time,
Meckes.Mark@epamail.epa.gov writes:

For example, most strains of
Escherichia coli
will ferment lactose under the elevated temperature test for fecal
coliform and therefore will meet the definition of "fecal coliform."
Similarly, some strains of
Klebsiella will also ferment lactose under
these same test conditions and will meet the definition of "fecal
coliform".



Fecal Coliform
ESCHERICHIA COLI: Besides being the number one cause of human urinary tract
infections, E. coli has been linked to diseases in just about every other part of the
body. Pneumonia, meningitis, and traveler's diarrhea are among the many illnesses
that pathogenic strains of E. coli can cause. Pathogenic strains of E. coli can cause
severe cases of diarrhea in all age groups by producing a powerful endotoxin.
[Central America Shigella strain Toxin] Treating E. coli infections with antibiotics may
actually place the patient in severe shock which could possibly lead to death. This is
due to the fact that more of the bacterium's toxin is released when the cell dies.

Klebsiella:  Klebsiella's pathogenicity can be attributed to its production of a
heat-stable enterotoxin.  K. pneumoniae is second only to E. coli as a urinary tract
pathogen. Klebsiella infections are encountered far more often now than in the past.
This is probably due to the bacterium's antibiotic resistance properties. Klebsiella
species may contain resistance plasmids (R-plasmids) which confer resistance to
such antibiotics as ampicillin and carbenicillin. To make matters worse, the
R-plasmids can be transferred to other enteric bacteria not necessarily of the same
species.

In 1997, 1562 bacterial isolates were recovered from hospitalized patients with skin
and soft tissue infections (SSTIs) in 30 United States (U.S.) and 8 Canadian medical
centers between October and December, 1997. The overall rank order of recovery
of the six most common pathogens was Staphylococcus aureus (42.6%) >
Pseudomonas aeruginosa (11.3%) > Enterococcus spp. (8.1%) > Escherichia coli
(7.2%) > Enterobacter spp. (5.2%) > beta-hemolytic streptocci (5.1%).

Coliforms -- Gram- negative rods are usually associated with intestinal infections
which may spread to other parts of the  body. The term EPA uses for these
infections is gasteroenteritis.

Citrobacter: C. freundii is suspected to cause diarrhea and possibly extraintestinal
infections. C. diversus has been linked to a few cases of meningitis in newborns.

Edwardsiella tarda:  E. tarda produces hydrogen sulfide. This bacterium is usually
found in aquatic animals and  reptiles. However, it has been known to cause
gastroenteritis and wound infections in humans.

Enterobacter: several species cause opportunistic infections of the urinary tract as
well as other parts of the body. E. aerogenes and E. cloacae are two such
pathogens that do not cause diarrhea, but that are sometimes associated with
urinary tract and respiratory tract infections.

Morganella morganii  can cause urinary tract and wound infections, as well as
diarrhea.

Providencia species have been associated with nosocomial (hospital acquired)
urinary tract infections. P. alcalifaciens, has been associated with some cases of
diarrhea in children.

Proteus,  can cause urinary tract infections and hospital-acquired infections.   
P.mirabilis, a cause of wound and  urinary tract infections. most strains of P. mirabilis
are sensitive to ampicillin and cephalosporins.  P. vulgaris is not  sensitive to these
antibiotics.

Salmonella: S. typhimurium and S. enteritidis are the two leading causes of
salmonellosis (inflammation of the intestine caused by Salmonella).  S. typhi is
unique because it is only carried by humans. This intracellular parasite can cause
typhoid fever (enteric fever) which is characterized by fever, diarrhea, and
inflammation of the infected organs.

Serratia genus were once known as harmless organisms that produced a
characteristic red pigment. Today, Serratia marcescens is considered a harmful
human pathogen which has been known to cause urinary tract infections, wound
infections, and pneumonia. Serratia bacteria also have many antibiotic resistance
properties which may become important if the incidence of Serratia infections
dramatically increases

Shigella is also an invasive pathogen which can be recovered from the bloody stool
of an infected host. Invasive pathogens colonize the host's tissues as opposed to
growing on tissue surfaces.

Yersinia genus: Y. enterocolitica and Y. pestis. Y. enterocolitica is the most often
encountered species of Yersinia in the lab. This bacterium is an invasive pathogen
which can penetrate the gut lining and enter the lymphatic system and the blood.
Infection, which is usually through ingestion of contaminated foods, can cause a
severe intestinal inflammation called yersiniosis. Release of its enterotoxin can
cause severe pain similar to that found in patients with appendicitis.

Y. pestis is included here because it causes the bubonic, pneumonic, and
septicemic plagues. Human contraction of bubonic plague is usually through flea
bites. Once inside the body, Y. pestis releases a toxin which inhibits electron
transport chain function. Swelling of the lymph nodes, skin blotches, and dilerium are
sometimes observed within a few days of infection. Untreated infections usually
result in death within a week of initial infection.

Jim Bynum

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Subject: Re: Rubin's suggestion
Date: 7/16/2007 12:53:54 P.M. Pacific Daylight Time
From: Meckes.Mark@epamail.epa.gov
Reply To:  
To: BynJam@aol.com


Mr. Bynam:

Most likely this confusion is due to the fact that total and fecal
coliform are defined by the methods used not the tenets of systematic
bacteriology as I mentioned in my previous e-mail.  Since the methods
used define the organism as a "total" or "fecal" coliform then variants
from a number of genera may meet the growth criteria and therefore be
designated as a coliform.  For example, most strains of Escherichia coli
will ferment lactose under the elevated temperature test for fecal
coliform and therefore will meet the definition of "fecal coliform."
Similarly, some strains of Klebsiella will also ferment lactose under
these same test conditions and will meet the definition of "fecal
coliform".   Thermotolerant strains/variants of virtually any of the
Enterobacteriaceae would also be defined as "fecal coliform" as long as
they produced acid and gas under the specified test conditions.

Mark C. Meckes
U.S. EPA (MS-387)
26 W. Martin Luther King Drive
Cincinnati, OH  45268



-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Subject: Re: Rubin's suggestion
Date: 7/16/2007 11:10:25 A.M. Pacific Daylight Time
From: BynJam
Reply To:  
To: Meckes.Mark@epamail.epa.gov

In a message dated 7/16/2007 10:44:11 A.M. Pacific Daylight Time,
Meckes.Mark@epamail.epa.gov writes:
The fecal coliform group is a subset of the total
coliform and it is also defined by the method used for detection. These
are facultative anaerobic, gram-negative, non-spore-forming, rod-shaped
bacteria that ferment lactose (specifically EC medium) with gas and acid
formation within 24 h at 44.5 degrees C.

Dr. Meckes, I want to thank you for your timely response. Could you elaborate
on the genera of bacteria in this subset of coliform? That seems to be the biggest
point of confusion.
Thanks
Jim Bynum
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Subject: Re: Rubin's suggestion
Date: 7/16/2007 10:44:11 A.M. Pacific Daylight Time
From: Meckes.Mark@epamail.epa.gov
Reply To:  
To: BynJam@aol.com


Dear Mr. Bynum

Fecal indicator bacteria are used to assess the microbiological quality
of water because although not typically disease causing, they may be
found in relatively high densities following a pollution event and they
have been (but are not always) detected in concert with some  waterborne
disease-causing (pathogenic) organisms.  Additionally, indicator
organisms are often more robust than pathogenic microorganisms surviving
treatments designed to disinfect water and waste streams when pathogenic
strains are not detectable.  Assays for indicator organisms are usually
simple, fast and inexpensive compared to test protocols used for the
analysis of specific pathogens which often are complex, slow, and
expensive.

The total and fecal coliform groups are commonly used as indicators of
fecal pollution.  The total coliform group consists of several genera of
bacteria belonging to the family Enterobacteriaceae.  The historical
definition of this group has been based on the method used for detection
(lactose fermentation) rather than on the tenets of systematic
bacteriology.  Accordingly, when the fermentation technique is used,
this group is defined as all facultative anaerobic, gram-negative,
non-spore-forming, rod-shaped bacteria that ferment lactose with gas and
acid formation within 48 h at 35 degrees C.  The fecal coliform group
also consists of several genera of bacteria belonging to the family
Enterobacteriaceae.  The fecal coliform group is a subset of the total
coliform and it is also defined by the method used for detection. These
are facultative anaerobic, gram-negative, non-spore-forming, rod-shaped
bacteria that ferment lactose (specifically EC medium) with gas and acid
formation within 24 h at 44.5 degrees C.

You state:  "There seems to be a lot of confusion within EPA, USDA, FDA,
CDC and other scientists as to the nature of these indicator organisms."
I would surmise that any apparent "confusion" is due in part to how a
particular agency defines "indicator organisms", and how that definition
is applied to specific data obtained in response to data calls,
regulatory requirements and research studies.  As noted above, the
presence of an indicator organism in a given sample provides some
evidence of a possible pollution event or contamination, but it does not
necessarily mean that pathogens are present.


Mark C. Meckes
U.S. EPA (MS-387)
26 W. Martin Luther King Drive
Cincinnati, OH  45268

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Subject: Rubin's suggestion
Date: 7/14/2007 10:54:30 A.M. Pacific Daylight Time
From: BynJam
Reply To:  
To: MECKES.MARK@EPA.GOV


Dr. Meckes
Recently, I questioned  Dr. Rubin about the nature of fecal coliforms as,
"There seems to be a lot of confusion within EPA, USDA, FDA, CDC and
other scientists as to the nature of these indicator organisms. I was
wondering if you would be willing to share your knowledge of the
organisms that make up fecal coliform. People want to resolve this question
once and for all."

Rubin replied, "The people to direct your questions to are Drs. Jim Smith
and Mark Meckes at EPA's ORD laboratory in Cincinnati, Ohio.  They are
actively involved in microbial issues re biosolids and wastewaters as well
as ambient waters."

I would appreciate it if you could answer the question.
Thanks and best regards.
Jim Bynum
1982-Meckes.pdf