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Virologica Sinica, 30 (5) : 344-353, 2015
Research Article
Human enteric viruses – potential indicators for enhanced monitoring of recreational water quality
1. Department of Public Health Sciences, University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa, Honolulu, Hawaii 96822, USA
2. Water Resources Research Center, University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa, Honolulu, Hawaii 96822, USA
 Correspondence: yuanan@hawaii.edu
(2174.99KB)  (116.32KB)  
Abstract
Recreational waters contaminated with human fecal pollution are a public health concern, and ensuring the safety of recreational waters for public use is a priority of both the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Current recreational water standards rely on fecal indicator bacteria (FIB) levels as indicators of human disease risk. However present evidence indicates that levels of FIB do not always correspond to the presence of other potentially harmful organisms, such as viruses. Thus, enteric viruses are currently tested as water quality indicators, but have yet to be successfully implemented in routine monitoring of water quality. This study utilized enteric viruses as possible alternative indicators of water quality to examine 18 different fresh and offshore recreational waters on O‘ahu, Hawai‘i, by using newly established laboratory techniques including highly optimized PCR, real time PCR, and viral infectivity assays. All sample sites were detected positive for human enteric viruses by PCR including enterovirus, norovirus genogroups I and II, and male specific FRNA coliphage. A six time-point seasonal study of enteric virus presence indicated significant variation in virus detection between the rainy and dry seasons. Quantitative PCR detected the presence of norovirus genogroup II at levels at which disease risk may occur, and there was no correlation found between enteric virus presence and FIB counts. Under the present laboratory conditions, no infectious viruses were detected from the samples PCR-positive for enteric viruses. These data emphasize both the need for additional indicators for improved monitoring of water quality, and the feasibility of using enteric viruses as these indicators.
Received: 8 Sep 2015  Accepted: 10 Oct 2015  Published online: 20 Oct 2015
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