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Appl Environ Microbiol. 2006 Jun;72(6):3960-7.

Rapid one-step quantitative reverse transcriptase PCR assay with competitive internal positive control for detection of enteroviruses in environmental samples.

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  • 1University of North Carolina, Institute of Marine Sciences, 3431 Arendell St., Morehead City, NC 28557, USA.


Human enteroviruses can serve as a more accurate indicator of human fecal contamination than conventional bacteriological fecal indicators. We describe here a quantitative reverse transcriptase PCR (qRT-PCR) assay specifically tailored to detect these viruses in environmental waters. The assay included a competitive internal positive control (CIPC) that allowed the inhibition of qRT-PCRs to be quantitatively assessed. Coamplification of the CIPC with enteroviral genetic material did not affect the sensitivity, specificity, or reproducibility of the enteroviral qRT-PCR assay. The assay is rapid (less than 5 h from sample to result), has a wide dynamic range (>3 logs), and is capable of detecting as few as 25 enteroviral genomes with an average amplification efficiency of 0.91. In samples with low or moderate inhibition, the delay in CIPC amplification was used to adjust enterovirus qRT-PCR concentrations to account for losses due to inhibition. Samples exhibiting significant inhibition were not corrected but instead diluted twofold and immediately assayed again. Using significantly inhibited samples, it was found that dilution relieved inhibition in 93% (25 of 27) of the samples. In addition, 15% (4 of 27) of these previously negative samples contained enteroviral genomes. The high-throughput format of the assay compared to conventional culture-based methods offers a fast, reliable, and specific method for detecting enteroviruses in environmental water samples. The ability of the assay to identify false negatives and provide improved quantitative assessments of enterovirus concentrations will facilitate the tracking of human fecal contamination and the assessment of potential public health risk due to enteroviruses in recreational and shellfish harvesting waters.

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