Detection of toxigenic Vibrio cholerae O1 in freshwater lakes of the former Soviet Republic of Georgia


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Three freshwater lakes, Lisi Lake, Kumisi Lake and Tbilisi Sea, near Tbilisi, Georgia, were studied from January 2006 to December 2007 to determine the presence of Vibrio cholerae employing both bacteriological culture method and direct detection methods, namely PCR and direct fluorescent antibody (DFA). For PCR, DNA extracted from water samples was tested for presence of V. cholerae and genes coding for selected virulence factors. Vibrio cholerae non-O1/non-O139 was routinely isolated by culture from all three lakes; whereas V. cholerae O1 and O139 were not. Water samples collected during the summer months from Lisi Lake and Kumisi Lake were positive for both V. cholerae and V. cholerae ctxA, tcpA, zot, ompU and toxR by PCR. Water samples collected during the same period from both Lisi and Kumisi Lake were also positive for V. cholerae serogroup O1 by DFA. All of the samples were negative for V. cholerae serotype O139. The results of this study provide evidence for an environmental presence of toxigenic V. cholerae O1, which may represent a potential source of illness as these lakes serve as recreational water in Tbilisi, Georgia.