Enterococci is a family of bacteria that lives in the intestines of mammals, birds, insects and reptiles, including humans, where it plays a functional role in our digestion. Out of balance, enterococci bacteria can blossom into bodily infections from common urinary tract infections (UTIs) to meningitis and heart infections.
In the environmental field, enterococci are the indicator organisms of choice for detecting fecal pollution in fresh and salt water recreational settings. Enterococci get into water through animal and human waste directly, accidental sewage treatment plant discharges, run-off from land, boats discharging sewage, and septic system failures. The enterococci test is preferred over the the Total Coliform/E. coli test because enterococci survive in salt water longer than E. coli.
Maine Environmental Laboratory uses the Idexx Enterolert method for testing enterococci. The test can read from 0-2419 colony forming units (cfu)/100 mL. Results are available by the next day.
The State of Maine posts health advisories at Maine beaches when the enterococcus count tests above 104 cfu/100mL.
Enterococcus - Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Enterococcus
Healthy Maine Beaches, "Bacteria Fact Sheet"
“Enterococci and Their Interactions with the Intestinal Microbiome.” Dubin, Krista, and Eric G Pamer. Microbiology spectrum vol. 5,6 (2014): https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5691600/
MEL Test Method for Enterococcus
Drinking Water - not a compliance test
Ambient (fresh, marine, or estuarine surface water), groundwater, wastewater - Enterolert (EPA compliant)
Container: plastic or glass (certified sterile)
Volume: 100 mL
Hold Time: 8 hours (get sample to lab within 6 hrs, please)