Dog poop at Dog Beach could be source of viruses that affect humans

by on July 12, 2011 · 7 comments

in Health, Ocean Beach

Scientists believe that dog feces left at Dog Beach in Ocean Beach represents a health threat to humans.  In general, this is a concern since bacteria capable of causing human disease can be found in animal feces.

With the hypothesis that a potential source of fecal bacteria in recreational waters is the canine feces left behind by owners who do not clean up after their pets, scientists recently screened the DNA that was isolated from canine feces.  20 samples were collected from the shoreline at Dog Beach, processed and screened.

In scientific terms, the screening studied DNA isolated from canine feces for the bacteriophage-encoded stx gene normally found in the virulent strains of the fecal bacterium Escherichia coli.

And the conclusions:

The bacteriophage-encoded stx gene was found in multiple species of bacteria cultivated from canine fecal samples gathered at the shoreline of the Dog Beach area of Ocean Beach in San Diego, California.

The canine fecal bacteria carrying the stx gene were not the typical E. coli host and were instead identified through phylogenetic analyses as Enterococcus.

This suggests a large degree of horizontal gene transfer of exotoxin genes in recreational waters.

See the full report at  7th Space

For background on phages, go here.

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

BOBOB July 12, 2011 at 10:53 am

awwww, but they’re so cute, running around not a care in the world, playing with their buddies, pissing on everything in sight and getting all hunch-backed, what could be more great. and so yes, some of those great pet lovers don’t necessarily love picking up after them, that’s ok, it’s just a little dog poop. I mean theres a million beaches in san diego right? Can’t we have just one disgusting disease riddled, putrid beach to let our beloved family members spread their “love” around?

: )


Sunshine July 12, 2011 at 2:56 pm

perhaps its time to look into get those doggies’ intestinal tracks healthier. could dogs use and benefit from herbs? any veterinarians out there with info on dog digestion and herbal cleansing? or perhaps a trip to Mozana on Voltaire or the Happy Hippie High Horny Herb (H4) store on Newport Ave may have some insight as to what these canines need to stop poopin out Enterococcus.

fixing the problem at the source sounds better to me than dealing with it on the other end.


JEC July 12, 2011 at 6:37 pm

The question has been pursued. Studies have been done. Of fecal chloroform dogs do contribute – a little – more than humans but much less than birds. Birds provide 70% of the fecal-chloroform found at California beaches. Go birds….


Robert Burns July 12, 2011 at 11:17 pm

The article fails to address what’s in the water and its relationship to dog feces AND dog urine. BTW, I jogged by Dog Beach on July 4th and was overwhelmed by the amonia smell that was far worse than I can remember in years and I became ill after bodysurfing that day off tower 2 much further to the south. Urine needs to be addressed too. And, the presence of viruses, amoebae, and parasitic worms are just as important as bacteria; the value of E coli testing is that its presence is correllated with the presence of the other biological hazards. JEC, birds don’t cause any detectable odor at Dog Beach. Lastly, I find the usual Dog Beach animal owner very responsible, esp. compared to those there 20 years ago, but July 4th must have brought an influx of irresponsible (criminal) dog owners and, of course, the Shitty of San Diego and the County of San Diego have long officially abdicated enforcement of dog effluent laws.


Curtis W. Jackson June 25, 2015 at 4:15 pm


This is a real problem. I noted this matter of dog poop on the beach in chapter eight of my new book and on my blog site.


Curtis W. Jackson


Josef July 14, 2015 at 6:10 pm

Dog beach has been around since 1972……43 years. Pretty sure that no one has died yet. I’d be more worried about diseases that humans carry and spread all over the place.


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