To evaluate the presence and distribution of the three main viruses (rotavirus, astrovirus, and norovirus) responsible for human acute gastroenteritis in sewerage systems, a one-year study was carried out in Beijing, China. A total of 96 samples of influent and effluents from three sewage treatment plants (STPs) were collected from November 2006 to October 2007. Silica was used to concentrate viral particles from water samples and a reverse transcriptase-nested polymerase chain reaction (RT-nested PCR) method was used for detection of viruses. Virus(es) could be detected in 35.4% (34/96) of the water samples analysed, where human rotavirus was the most frequently detected one (32.3%, 31/96), followed by human astrovirus (6.3%, 6/96) and human norovirus (3.1%, 3/96). According to the quantitation results of rotaviruses, which were gained by the real-time quantitative RT-PCR method with SYBR Green I, it was known that the distributions of rotaviruses in influents and effluents of three STPs were quite similar, i.e., abundant in cold weather (from October to March) and less prevalent in warm weather (from April to September). According to the estimated exposure dose and exposure frequency, as well as the acceptable annual risk level, it was shown that the rotaviruses in the reused wastewater after conventional treatment process presented potential risk to human health through both occupational and accidental exposure.
Keywords: astrovirus, health risk, norovirus, rotavirus, STP