Survival of Surrogate Coronaviruses in Water

Water Res. 2009 Apr;43(7):1893-8. doi: 10.1016/j.watres.2009.02.002. Epub 2009 Feb 10.


The emergence of a previously unknown coronavirus infection, Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), demonstrated that fecally contaminated liquid droplets are a potential vehicle for the spread of a respiratory virus to large numbers of people. To assess potential risks from this pathway, there is a need for surrogates for SARS coronavirus to provide representative data on viral survival in contaminated water. This study evaluated survival of two surrogate coronaviruses, transmissible gastroenteritis (TGEV) and mouse hepatitis (MHV). These viruses remained infectious in water and sewage for days to weeks. At 25 degrees C, time required for 99% reduction in reagent-grade water was 22 days for TGEV and 17 days for MHV. In pasteurized settled sewage, times for 99% reduction were 9 days for TGEV and 7 days for MHV. At 4 degrees C, there was <1 log(10) infectivity decrease for both viruses after four weeks. Coronaviruses can remain infectious for long periods in water and pasteurized settled sewage, suggesting contaminated water is a potential vehicle for human exposure if aerosols are generated.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Murine hepatitis virus / isolation & purification
  • Murine hepatitis virus / physiology*
  • Sewage / virology
  • Transmissible gastroenteritis virus / isolation & purification
  • Transmissible gastroenteritis virus / physiology*
  • Water Microbiology*


  • Sewage