International journal of hygiene and environmental health

Chemical and microbiological parameters as possible indicators for human enteric viruses in surface water.

PMID 20556879


There are still conflicting results on the suitability of chemical and microbiological parameters as indicators for the viral contamination of surface waters. In this study, conducted over 20 months, the abundance of human adenovirus, human polyomavirus, enterovirus, group A rotavirus and norovirus was determined in Ruhr and Rhine rivers, Germany. Additionally, prevalence of different possible indicators such as somatic coliphages, E. coli, intestinal enterococci, and total coliforms was also considered. Moreover, the chemical parameter TCPP (tris-(2-chloro-, 1-methyl-ethyl)-phosphate), characterized by environmental stability and human origin, was included. Furthermore, chemical parameters (fluoride, chloride, nitrate, nitrite, bromide, phosphate, and sulfate) which may influence the stability and subsequently the detection rates of viruses in aquatic environment were measured. Quantitative Real-Time (RT-)PCR and double agar layer test were used for the quantification of human enteric viruses and somatic coliphages, respectively. The analyses for E. coli, total coliforms, and intestinal enterococci were done with respect to the standard reference method. The chemical parameters were measured by liquid chromatography of ions and by gas chromatography-flame photometer detector (GC-FPD), respectively. We demonstrated that human adenovirus had the highest detection rate (96.3%), followed by somatic coliphages (73.5%), human polyomavirus (68.6%), and rotavirus (63.5%). However, norovirus GII and enterovirus were found in only 25.7 and 17.8%, respectively. The concentration of the viral genome ranged between 16 and 1.1 xs 10(6) gen. equ./l (genome equivalents/l) whereas the concentrations for TCPP ranged between 0.01 and 0.9 microg/l. The results of the Pearson correlation showed no association between TCPP and any other microbiological parameter. None of the other tested chemical parameters correlated negatively, and therefore they do not influence the stability of enteric viruses. We conclude that neither TCPP nor any other chemical or microbiological parameter can be used as a reliable indicator for the presence of enteric viruses in river water.

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TCPP, mixture of isomers, analytical standard