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Environ Microbiol. 2012 Feb;14(2):494-502. doi: 10.1111/j.1462-2920.2011.02642.x. Epub 2011 Nov 28.

Human norovirus occurrence and diversity in the Llobregat river catchment, Spain.

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Enteric Virus Laboratory, Department of Microbiology and Institute of Nutrition and Food Safety, University of Barcelona, Barcelona, Spain.

Abstract

Human noroviruses (NoV) were quantified and characterized in an 18 month survey conducted along the Llobregat river catchment in Spain. Sample types included freshwater, untreated and treated wastewater and drinking water. High NoV genome copy numbers were reported, reaching up to 10(6)  l(-1) and 10(9)  l(-1) in freshwater and raw sewage respectively. In both types of samples, GII NoV genome copies outnumbered those of GI, although without significance. All samples of semi-treated and treated drinking water were negative for NoV. A clear seasonality of NoV occurrence was observed both in river water and sewage samples, with significantly higher genome copy numbers in the cold than in the warm months period. Mean NoV log reduction rates after biological treatment of sewage were 2.2 and 3.1 for GI and GII respectively. A total of 77 NoV strains isolated in the Llobregat river catchment could be phylogenetically characterized, 44 belonging to GI and 33 to GII. The most prevalent genotype was GI.4, followed by GII.4 and GII.21. Several variants of the pandemic GII.4 strain were detected in the environment, corroborating their circulation among the population.

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