Heterotrophic plate count (HPC) test has been employed to indicate the effectiveness of water treatment processes and the microbiological condition of the distribution system. In Japan, because the majority of HPC bacteria are supposed to be harmless and all tap water should maintain residual chlorine, there are few studies of the virulence of HPC bacteria. In this study, we examined HPC bacteria isolated from finished and tap water for hemolytic activity to determine their virulence potential. 34 of 39 colonies expressing hemolytic activity were identified by partial 16S rDNA sequencing, but some of their percent identity were relatively low. This may have been due to the mismatching of the primer pair with some strains, or these strains may be unidentified new species. A total of 30 of 34 isolates identified have been reported to be opportunistic pathogens or food poisoning bacteria. To control the growth of these opportunistic pathogens among HPC bacteria, appropriate water quality control must always be done and residual chlorine must be maintained in every tap for a safe water supply.
2009 The Society for Antibacterial and Antifungal Agents, Japan