This study proposed to detect the enterovirus (EV) infection in children with type 1 diabetes mellitus (T1D) and to assess the role of insufficiently treated water and sewage as sources of viral spreading. Three hundred and eighty-two serum specimens of children with T1D, one hundred serum specimens of children who did not suffer from T1D as control, and forty-eight water and sewage samples were screened for EV RNA using nested RT-PCR. The number of genome copies and infectious units of EVs in raw and treated sewage and water samples were investigated using real-time (RT)-PCR and plaque assay, respectively. T1D markers [Fasting blood glucose (FBG), HbA1c, and C-peptide], in addition to anti-Coxsackie A & B viruses (CVs A & B) IgG, were measured in control, T1D-negative EV (T1D-EV-), and T1D-positive EV (T1D-EV+) children specimens. The prevalence of EV genome was significantly higher in diabetic children (26.2%, 100 out of 382) than the control children (0%, 0 out of 100). FBG and HbA1c in T1D-EV- and T1D-EV+ children specimens were significantly higher than those in the control group, while c-peptide in T1D-EV- and T1D-EV+ children specimens was significantly lower than that in the control (n = 100; p < 0.001). Positivity of anti-CVs A & B IgG was 70.7, 6.7, and 22.9% in T1D-EV+, T1D-EV-, and control children specimens, respectively. The prevalence of EV genome in drinking water and treated sewage samples was 25 and 33.3%, respectively. The prevalence of EV infectious units in drinking water and treated sewage samples was 8.5 and 25%, respectively. Quantification assays were performed to assess the capabilities of both wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs) and water treatment plants (WTPs) to remove EV. The reduction of EV genome in Zenin WWTP ranged from 2 to 4 log10, while the reduction of EV infectious units ranged from 1 to 4 log10. The reduction of EV genome in El-Giza WTP ranged from 1 to 3 log10, while the reduction of EV infectious units ranged from 1 to 2 log10. This capability of reduction did not prevent the appearance of infectious EV in treated sewage and drinking water. Plaque purification was performed for isolation of separate EV isolates from treated and untreated water and sewage samples. Characterization of the EV amplicons by RT-PCR followed by sequencing of these isolates revealed high homology (97%) with human coxsackievirus B4 (CV B4) in 60% of the isolates, while the rest of the isolates belonged to poliovirus type 1 and type 2 vaccine strains. On the other hand, characterization of the EV amplicons by RT-PCR followed by sequencing for T1D-EV+ children specimens indicated that all samples contained CV B4 with the same sequence characterized in the environmental samples. CV B4-contaminated drinking water or treated sewage may play a role as a causative agent of T1D in children.
Keywords: Children; Coxsackievirus B4; Drinking water; Enterovirus; Type 1 diabetes.