Occurrence of human pathogenic viruses in drinking water and in its sources: A review

Cristina Pignata , Marco Panizzolo , Marta Gea , Elisabetta Carraro , Giorgio Gilli , Silvia Bonetta


Received February 22, 2022,Revised , Accepted July 21, 2022, Available online August 01, 2022

Volume 35,2023,Pages 145-161

Since many waterborne diseases are caused by human pathogenic viruses, virus monitoring of drinking water (DW) and DW sources is crucial for public health. Therefore, the aim of this review was to describe the occurrence of human pathogenic viruses in DW and DW sources; the occurrence of two viruses proposed as novel indicators of human faecal contamination (Pepper mild mottle virus and Tobacco mosaic virus) was also reported. This research was focused on articles that assessed viral occurrence using molecular methods in the surface water used for DW production (SW-D), groundwater used for DW production (GW-D), DW and bottled-DW (BW). A total of 1544 studies published in the last 10 years were analysed, and 79 were ultimately included. In considering the detection methods, filtration is the most common concentration technique, while quantitative polymerase chain reaction is the most common quantification technique. Regarding virus occurrence in SW-D, GW-D, and DW, high percentages of positive samples were reported for adenovirus, polyomavirus and Pepper mild mottle virus. Viral genomes were frequently detected in SW-D and rarely in GW-D, suggesting that GW-D may be a safe DW source. Viral genomes were also detected in DW, posing a possible threat to human health. The lowest percentages of positive samples were found in Europe, while the highest were found in Asia and South America. Only three articles assessed viral occurrence in BW. This review highlights the lack of method standardization and the need for legislation updates.

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