Human enteric bacteria and viruses in five wastewater treatment plants in the Eastern Cape, South Africa

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Monitoring effluents from wastewater treatment plants is important to preventing both environmental contamination and the spread of disease. We evaluated the occurrence of human enteric bacteria (faecal coliforms and Escherichia coli) and viruses (rotavirus and enterovirus) in the final effluents of five wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs) in the Eastern Cape of South Africa. Human viruses were recovered from the effluent samples with the adsorption–elution method and detected with singleplex real-time RT–PCR assays. Rotavirus was detected in several effluents samples, but no enterovirus was detected. At WWTP-C, rotavirus titre up to 105 genome copies/L was observed and present in 41.7% of the samples. At WWTP-B, the virus was detected in 41.7% of samples, with viral titres up to 103 genome copies/L. The virus was detected once at WWTP-E, in 9% of the samples analysed. The viral titres at WWTP-A were below the detection limit in all 25% of the 1.25 L samples in which the virus was detected. Rotavirus was not observed at WWTP-D. Faecal coliform bacteria and E. coli were detected in all the WWTPs, but no correlation was established between the enteric bacteria and viruses studied. The occurrence of rotavirus in effluent samples discharged into surface waters highlights the importance of assessing viral contamination in the water sources used for domestic water use.




Osuolale, O., & Okoh, A. (2017). Human enteric bacteria and viruses in five wastewater treatment plants in the Eastern Cape, South Africa. Journal of Infection and Public Health, 10(5), 541–547.

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