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Food Environ Virol. 2014 Jun;6(2):125-31. doi: 10.1007/s12560-014-9147-3. Epub 2014 May 13.

Molecular detection of human noroviruses in influent and effluent samples from two biological sewage treatment plants in the region of Monastir, Tunisia.

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Laboratory of Infectious Diseases and Biological Agents, Faculty of Pharmacy, University of Monastir, 5000, Monastir, Tunisia,


Noroviruses (NoVs) are responsible for numerous cases of waterborne and foodborne gastroenteritis every year. They are released in the sewage and their detection in this environment can reflect the epidemiology of the viral strains circulating in the community. A three-year (2007-2010) survey was conducted in order to evaluate the presence of human NoVs using RT-PCR in 518 sewage samples collected at the entrance and exit of two biological sewage treatment plants located in Monastir region, Tunisia. In this study, we aimed to genetically characterize the most prevalent GI and GII NoV strains, in order to obtain a rough estimate of the efficacy of disinfection treatments and to compare the results with clinical data documented in the same area during the same period. This work confirms the wide circulation and the genetic diversity of NoVs in Tunisia and the widespread distribution of NoV variants in both raw and treated wastewater. Indeed, NoV was detected in 192 (37.1%) sewage samples, among them mixed infections with group A rotavirus were detected in 125 (65.1%) cases. The genotypes of the GI NoVs were GI.1, GI.2, GI.4, GI.5, and GI of unassigned genotype (GI.UA), and the genotypes of the GII NoVs were all GII.12. This study enhances the currently poor environmental virological data gathered in Tunisia, demonstrates the benefit of environmental surveillance as a tool to determine the epidemiology of NoVs circulating in a given community, and underlines the need for the design and support of similar long-term studies in our country, in order to compensate for the absence of a national surveillance system for gastroenteric viruses.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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