Microbiological status of piggery effluent from 13 piggeries in the south east Queensland region of Australia.
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AIMS: To assist in the development of safe piggery effluent re-use guidelines by determining the level of selected pathogens and indicator organisms in the effluent ponds of 13 south-east Queensland piggeries. METHODS AND RESULTS: The numbers of thermotolerant coliforms, Campylobacter jejuni/coli, Erysipelothrix rhusiopathiae, Escherichia coli, Salmonella and rotavirus were determined in 29 samples derived from the 13 piggeries. The study demonstrated that the 13 final effluent ponds contained an average of 1.2 x 10(5) colony-forming units (CFU) 100 ml(-1) of thermotolerant coliforms and 1.03 x 10(5) CFU 100 ml(-1) of E. coli. The Campylobacter level varied from none detectable (two of 13 piggeries) to a maximum of 930 most probable number (MPN) 100 ml(-1) (two of 13 piggeries). Salmonella was detected in the final ponds of only four of the 13 piggeries and then only at a low level (highest level being 51 MPN 100 ml(-1)). No rotavirus and no Erysip. rhusiopathiae were detected. The average log10 reductions across the ponding systems to the final irrigation pond were 1.77 for thermotolerant coliforms, 1.71 for E. coli and 1.04 for Campylobacter. CONCLUSIONS: This study has provided a baseline knowledge on the levels of indicator organisms and selected pathogens in piggery effluent. SIGNIFICANCE AND IMPACT OF THE STUDY: The knowledge gained in this study will assist in the development of guidelines to ensure the safe and sustainable re-use of piggery effluent.