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The Use of Rt-Pcr for the Detection of Enteric Viruses in Prairie Surface Drinking Water Supplies

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Abstract:Concerns over the microbial safety of drinking water supplies have focused on bacteria and parasites while the occurrence of pathogenic waterborne viruses have been largely ignored. In fact, water supplies are not routinely monitored for human enteric viruses. This is despite the fact that pathogenic viruses are estimated to acccount for more than half of waterborne diseases. Reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) is used widely to detect viruses in clinical samples, but the application of RT-PCR to source-waters is compounded by two major factors. Relative to clinical samples, these water contain low numbers of pathogenic viruses and contain substances which are inhibitory to RT-PCR reactions. These substances inevitably become concentrated along with the virus particles. Without purification of the target viruses to remove inhibitors, false negatives are likely to occur, with serious health implications. We tested an RT-PCR method by screening four prairie surface water supplies for the presence of major enteric viruses (enterovirus, reovirus, rotavirus, hepatitis A virus and calicivirus). At the same time we tested for the presence of other microbes, and measured a range of water quality parameters. The presence of coliform bacteria, high particle and turbidity levels as well as dissolved inorganic and organic material indicate that these source waters were poor quality. No viruses were detected in the samples. However, the same samples seeded with virus also resulted in a few confirmed positive results. We argue that there is clearly a critical need to develop methods which are robust, that can be used to detect waterborne viruses with confidence, particularly for waters of poor quality. This is particularly important as global population density, intensive livestock farming and water usage increase.
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Citation:Ruecker, N. J., G. S. Fout, H. G. Peterson, S. Watson, J. Lawrence, G. Appleyard, and N. Christofi. The Use of Rt-Pcr for the Detection of Enteric Viruses in Prairie Surface Drinking Water Supplies. Presented at 37th central Canadian Symposium on Water Pollution Research, Burlington, Ontario, February 4-5, 2002.
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Contact: Mary P. O'Bryant - (919)-541-4871 or obriant.mary@epa.gov
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Division: Microbiological & Chemical Exposure Assessment Division
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Branch: Biohazard Assessment Research Branch
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Product Type: Abstrct/Oral
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Presented: 02/04/2002
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Related Entries:
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Bullet Item Detecting Ccl-Related, Emerging Waterborne Human Viruses and Viral Indicators for Exposure Assessment
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Last Updated on Monday, October 22, 2007
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