Inadequately treated wastewater as a source of human enteric viruses in the environment

Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2010 Jun;7(6):2620-37. doi: 10.3390/ijerph7062620. Epub 2010 Jun 14.


Human enteric viruses are causative agents in both developed and developing countries of many non-bacterial gastrointestinal tract infections, respiratory tract infections, conjunctivitis, hepatitis and other more serious infections with high morbidity and mortality in immunocompromised individuals such as meningitis, encephalitis and paralysis. Human enteric viruses infect and replicate in the gastrointestinal tract of their hosts and are released in large quantities in the stools of infected individuals. The discharge of inadequately treated sewage effluents is the most common source of enteric viral pathogens in aquatic environments. Due to the lack of correlation between the inactivation rates of bacterial indicators and viral pathogens, human adenoviruses have been proposed as a suitable index for the effective indication of viral contaminants in aquatic environments. This paper reviews the major genera of pathogenic human enteric viruses, their pathogenicity and epidemiology, as well as the role of wastewater effluents in their transmission.

Keywords: enteric viruses; gastrointestinal tract; wastewater.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adenoviridae / isolation & purification
  • Disease Outbreaks / prevention & control
  • Disinfectants
  • Enterovirus / isolation & purification*
  • Gastroenteritis / prevention & control
  • Humans
  • Norovirus / isolation & purification
  • Rotavirus
  • Rotavirus Infections / prevention & control
  • Sewage / adverse effects
  • Sewage / microbiology
  • Sewage / virology*
  • South Africa
  • Water Microbiology / standards*
  • Water Purification / standards*
  • Water Supply / standards*


  • Disinfectants
  • Sewage