Concentration and detection of SARS coronavirus in sewage from Xiao Tang Shan Hospital and the 309th Hospital

J Virol Methods. 2005 Sep;128(1-2):156-61. doi: 10.1016/j.jviromet.2005.03.022.


The transmission of severe acute respiratory syndrome-associated coronavirus (SARS-CoV) is associated with close contact to SARS patients and droplet secretions of those patients. The finding of positive RT-PCR results from stools of SARS patients suggests that stools of SARS patients or sewage containing stools of patients could transmit SARS-CoV. We used a novel style of electropositive filter media particle to concentrate the SARS-CoV from the sewage of two hospitals receiving SARS patients in Beijing. We also used cell culture, RT-PCR and gene sequencing to detect and identify the viruses from sewage. No infectious SARS-CoV contamination was found in any of the samples collected, but the nucleic acid of SARS-CoV could be detected in the sewage from the two hospitals before disinfection. While the RNA was only detected in three samples from the 309th Hospital, the others were negative after disinfection. These findings provide strong evidence that SARS-CoV can be excreted through the stool/urine of patients into sewage system, thus making the sewage system a possible route of transmission.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • China
  • Disinfection / methods
  • Feces / virology
  • Filtration / methods
  • Hospitals*
  • Humans
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome / transmission*
  • Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome / virology*
  • Severe acute respiratory syndrome-related coronavirus / classification*
  • Severe acute respiratory syndrome-related coronavirus / genetics
  • Severe acute respiratory syndrome-related coronavirus / isolation & purification*
  • Sewage / virology*
  • Virology / methods
  • Virus Cultivation


  • Sewage