Group A rotaviruses (RV) are the major cause of acute gastroenteritis in infants and young children globally. Waterborne transmission of RV and the presence of RV in water sources are of major public health importance. In this paper, we present the Global Waterborne Pathogen model for RV (GloWPa-Rota model) to estimate the global distribution of RV emissions to surface water. To our knowledge, this is the first model to do so. We review the literature to estimate three RV specific variables for the model: incidence, excretion rate and removal during wastewater treatment. We estimate total global RV emissions to be 2 × 1018 viral particles/grid/year, of which 87% is produced by the urban population. Hotspot regions with high RV emissions are urban areas in densely populated parts of the world, such as Bangladesh and Nigeria, while low emissions are found in rural areas in North Russia and the Australian desert. Even for industrialized regions with high population density and without tertiary treatment, such as the UK, substantial emissions are estimated. Modeling exercises like the one presented in this paper provide unique opportunities to further study these emissions to surface water, their sources and scenarios for improved management.
Keywords: contamination; emission; feces; global; modeling; rotavirus; sanitation; sewage.