Occurrence of norovirus and other enteric viruses in untreated groundwaters of Korea

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A total of 39 water samples from 23 different groundwater wells in Korea were collected and analyzed in order to monitor the occurrence of norovirus (NoV) and other indicator microbes as the first part of a national survey of groundwater. More than 500 L of untreated groundwater were filtered through 1MDS filters. Following elution and concentration by organic flocculation, PCR and sequence analysis were employed to detect and identify NoV, enterovirus, rotavirus, hepatitis A virus and adenovirus (Adv). Somatic and F-specific phages, heterotrophic bacteria, total coliforms and Escherichia coli were also analyzed to infer possible fecal contamination. NoVs were detected in 18% of the 39 samples. Five out of seven NoV-positive samples (71%) were identified as GI while the other two (29%) were GII. Enteroviruses and Advs were detected in two and three samples, respectively. Rotavirus and hepatitis A virus were not detected. Total coliforms, E. coli and coliphages were detected in 49, 15 and 13% of the samples, respectively, but did not appear to be suitable indicators of enteric virus contamination in groundwater. These results suggest that additional treatment may be needed for a significant number of groundwaters prior to use as drinking water.

Keywords: enteric viruses, fecal contamination, groundwater, norovirus

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