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J Virol Methods. 1997 Jan;63(1-2):145-53.

A method to remove environmental inhibitors prior to the detection of waterborne enteric viruses by reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction.

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  • 1Biohazard Assessment Research Branch, National Exposure Research Laboratory, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Cincinnati, OH 45268, USA.


A method was developed to remove environmental inhibitors from sample concentrates prior to detection of human enteric viruses using the reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR). Environmental inhibitors, concentrated along with viruses during water sample processing, are removed by the method through a series of steps that includes dialysis, solvent extraction, ultrafiltration and glass purification. The method was tested by spiking sodium phosphate with poliovirus type 1 with or without humic or fulvic acids and then measuring virus recovery by plaque assay and RT-PCR. Results of the study indicated that (i) 90% of the spiked virus could be recovered from samples at the end of the ultrafiltration step, (ii) virus was detected in the final eluate of samples containing as much as 0.5 mg of humic acid or 5.0 mg of fulvic acid, and (iii) as little as 0.06 plaque forming units (PFU) was detectable per RT-PCR reaction. These results indicate that the described purification method along with RT-PCR is a feasible approach for detecting waterborne human enteric viruses in the presence of interfering substances.

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