Detection and characterization of human pathogenic viruses circulating in community wastewater using multi target microarrays and polymerase chain reaction

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Sewage pollution remains the most significant source of human waterborne pathogens. This study describes the detection and characterization of human enteric viruses in community wastewaters using cell culture coupled with multiple target microarrays (with a total of 780 unique probes targeting 27 different groups of both DNA and RNA viruses) and polymerase chain reaction (PCR) assays. Over a 13-month sampling period, RNA viruses (astroviruses and enteroviruses) were more frequently detected compared to DNA viruses (adenoviruses, particularly type 41 and BK polyomavirus). Overall, many more viruses were shed during the winter months (December–February) compared to the summer months. Exploration of the multiple types of enteric viruses particularly in winter months identified much more significant prevalence of key viral pathogens associated with sewage pollution of the water environment than previously realized and seasonal disinfection used in some parts of the world may lead to a seeding of ambient waters. Molecular characterization of pathogenic viruses in community wastewater will improve the understanding of the potential risk of waterborne disease transmission of viral pathogens.

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