This study determined whether human pathogenic viruses are present in two New Zealand surface waters that are used as drinking-water sources. Enteric viruses were concentrated using hollow-fibre ultrafiltration and detected using PCR for adenovirus (AdV), and reverse transcription PCR for norovirus (NoV) genogroups I-III, enterovirus, rotavirus (RoV) and hepatitis E virus (HEV). Target viruses were detected in 106/109 (97%) samples, with 67/109 (61%) samples positive for three or more viral types at any one time. AdV, NoV and RoV were detected the most frequently, and HEV the least frequently. Human NoV was not usually associated with animal NoV. Our results suggest that New Zealand would be well served by assessing the ability of drinking-water treatment plants to remove viruses from the source waters, and that this assessment could be based on the viral concentration of AdV-NoV-RoV. The long-term aim of our work is to use this information to estimate the risk of waterborne viral infection.
Keywords: drinking-water, enteric viruses, microbial risk assessment and management, water pollution