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Appl Environ Microbiol. 2010 Mar;76(5):1388-94. doi: 10.1128/AEM.02249-09. Epub 2010 Jan 8.

Viral multiplex quantitative PCR assays for tracking sources of fecal contamination.

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  • 1Institute of Environmental Science and Research Ltd., Kenepuru Science Centre, P.O. Box 50-348, Porirua, New Zealand.


Human and animal fecal pollution of the environment presents a risk to human health because of the presence of pathogenic viruses and bacteria. To distinguish between human and animal sources of pollution, we designed specific real-time reverse transcription (RT)-PCR assays for human and animal enteric viruses, including norovirus genogroups I, II, and III; porcine adenovirus types 3 and 5; ovine adenovirus; atadenovirus; and human adenovirus species C and F, which are excreted by infected humans, pigs, cattle, sheep, deer, and goats, and for the detection of F+ RNA bacteriophage genogroups I to IV, which are associated with human and animal wastes. The sensitivity of this viral toolbox (VTB) was tested against 10-fold dilution series of DNA plasmids that carry the target sequences of the respective viruses and was shown to detect at least 10 plasmid copies for each assay. A panel of human and animal enteric and respiratory viruses showed these assays to be highly sensitive and specific to their respective targets. The VTB was used to detect viruses in fecal and environmental samples, including raw sewage and biosolids from municipal sewage treatment plants, abattoir sewage, and fecally contaminated shellfish and river water, which were likely to contain animal or human viruses.

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