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Virol J. 2010 Jun 28;7:141. doi: 10.1186/1743-422X-7-141.

Newly described human polyomaviruses Merkel cell, KI and WU are present in urban sewage and may represent potential environmental contaminants.

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1
Department of Microbiology, Faculty of Biology, Universitat de Barcelona, Av, Diagonal 645, 08028 Barcelona, Spain. sbofill@ub.edu

Abstract

Recently, three new polyomaviruses (KI, WU and Merkel cell polyomavirus) have been reported to infect humans. It has also been suggested that lymphotropic polyomavirus, a virus of simian origin, infects humans. KI and WU polyomaviruses have been detected mainly in specimens from the respiratory tract while Merkel cell polyomavirus has been described in a very high percentage of Merkel cell carcinomas. The distribution, excretion level and transmission routes of these viruses remain unknown.Here we analyzed the presence and characteristics of newly described human polyomaviruses in urban sewage and river water in order to assess the excretion level and the potential role of water as a route of transmission of these viruses. Nested-PCR assays were designed for the sensitive detection of the viruses studied and the amplicons obtained were confirmed by sequencing analysis. The viruses were concentrated following a methodology previously developed for the detection of JC and BK human polyomaviruses in environmental samples. JC polyomavirus and human adenoviruses were used as markers of human contamination in the samples. Merkel cell polyomavirus was detected in 7/8 urban sewage samples collected and in 2/7 river water samples. Also one urine sample from a pregnant woman, out of 4 samples analyzed, was positive for this virus. KI and WU polyomaviruses were identified in 1/8 and 2/8 sewage samples respectively. The viral strains detected were highly homologous with other strains reported from several other geographical areas. Lymphotropic polyomavirus was not detected in any of the 13 sewage neither in 9 biosolid/sludge samples analyzed.This is the first description of a virus isolated from sewage and river water with a strong association with cancer. Our data indicate that the Merkel cell polyomavirus is prevalent in the population and that it may be disseminated through the fecal/urine contamination of water. The procedure developed may constitute a useful tool for studying the excreted strains, prevalence and transmission of these recently described polyomaviruses.

PMID:
20584272
PMCID:
PMC2907336
DOI:
10.1186/1743-422X-7-141
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
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