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Noroviruses in raw sewage, secondary effluents and reclaimed water produced by sand-anthracite filters and membrane bioreactor/reverse osmosis system

Prado, Tatiana, de Castro Bruni, Antônio, Barbosa, Mikaela Renata Funada, Garcia, Suzi Cristina, Moreno, Luisa Zanolli, Sato, Maria Inês Zanoli
The Science of the total environment 2019 v.646 pp. 427-437
Norovirus, activated sludge, chlorination, coagulation, effluents, filters, genotype, membrane bioreactors, quantitative polymerase chain reaction, reverse osmosis, sewage, ultrafiltration, viral load, viruses, wastewater, wastewater treatment, waterborne diseases, Brazil
The importance of noroviruses (NoVs) in the epidemiology of waterborne diseases has increased globally in the last decades. The present study aimed to monitor genogroup I and II noroviruses in different treatment stages of four wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs) in the metropolitan São Paulo. WWTPs consist of secondary (activated sludge) and tertiary treatments (coagulation, sand-anthracite filters, membrane bioreactor (MBR)/reverse osmosis (RO) and chlorination). Raw sewage (500mL) and treated effluents (1L) were concentrated by celite and reclaimed water (40L) by hollow-fiber ultrafiltration system. Quantitative (qPCR) and nested PCR with nucleotide sequencing were used for quantification and molecular characterization. NoVs were widely distributed in raw wastewater samples (83.3%–100% NoV GI and 91.6%–100% NoV GII) and viral loads varied from 3.8 to 6.66log10gcL−1 for NoV GI and 3.8 to 7.3log10gcL−1 for NoV GII. Mean virus removal efficiencies obtained for activated sludge processes ranged from 0.3 to 0.8 log10 for NoV GI and 0.4 to 1.4 log10 for NoV GII. NoVs were not detected in the reuse water produced by MBR/RO system, while sand-anthracite filters resulted in a NoV GI and GII decay of 1.1–1.6 log10 and 0.7–1.6 log10, respectively. A variety of genotypes (GI.2, GI.3a, GI.3b, GI.5, GII.1, GII.4 Sydney 2012, GII.5, GII.6, GII.17) was observed, with a predominance of GI.2 and GII.17 in the different genogroups. These results corroborate with recent data about the entry and dissemination of the emerging genotype GII.P17-GII.17 Kawasaki 2014 in the country, and may indicate a change in the epidemiological patterns of norovirus strains circulation in this region. This is the first large-scale study to evaluate burden and genotypes of noroviruses in WWTPs in Brazil, providing a rapid diagnosis of viruses circulating in the population.