New methods for the detection of viruses: call for review of drinking water quality guidelines

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Journal: Water Sci Technol 2001/07/24
Published: 2001
Authors: Grabow, W. O.;Taylor, M. B.;de Villiers, J. C.
Address: Dept of Medical Virology, University of Pretoria, PO Box 2034, 0001 Pretoria, South Africa.

Drinking water supplies which meet international recommendations for source, treatment and disinfection were analysed. Viruses recovered from 100 L-1,000 L volumes by in-line glass wool filters were inoculated in parallel into four cell culture systems. Cell culture inoculation was used to isolate cytopathogenic viruses, amplify the nucleic acid of non-cytopathogenic viruses and confirm viability of viruses. Over a period of two years, viruses were detected in 23% of 413 drinking water samples and 73% of 224 raw water samples. Cytopathogenic viruses were detected in 6% raw water samples but not in any treated drinking water supplies. Enteroviruses were detected in 17% drinking water samples, adenoviruses in 4% and hepatitis A virus in 3%. In addition to these viruses, astro- and rotaviruses were detected in raw water. All drinking water supplies had heterotrophic plate counts of < 100/mL, total and faecal coliform counts of 0/100 mL and negative results in qualitative presence-absence tests for somatic and F-RNA coliphages (500 mL samples). These results call for a revision of water quality guidelines based on indicator organisms and vague reference to the absence of viruses.

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