Monitoring human enteric viruses in wastewater and relevance to infections encountered in the clinical setting: a one-year experiment in central France, 2014 to 2015

Euro Surveill. 2018 Feb;23(7):17-00237. doi: 10.2807/1560-7917.ES.2018.23.7.17-00237.


BackgroundHuman enteric viruses are resistant in the environment and transmitted via the faecal-oral route. Viral shedding in wastewater gives the opportunity to track emerging pathogens and study the epidemiology of enteric infectious diseases in the community. Aim: The aim of this study was to monitor the circulation of enteric viruses in the population of the Clermont-Ferrand area (France) by analysis of urban wastewaters. Methods: Raw and treated wastewaters were collected between October 2014 and October 2015 and concentrated by a two-step protocol using tangential flow ultrafiltration and polyethylene glycol precipitation. Processed samples were analysed for molecular detection of adenovirus, norovirus, rotavirus, parechovirus, enterovirus (EV), hepatitis A (HAV) and E (HEV) viruses. Results: All wastewater samples (n = 54) contained viruses. On average, six and four virus species were detected in, respectively, raw and treated wastewater samples. EV-positive samples were tested for EV-D68 to assess its circulation in the community. EV-D68 was detected in seven of 27 raw samples. We collected data from clinical cases of EV-D68 (n = 17), HAV (n = 4) and HEV infection (n = 16) and compared wastewater-derived sequences with clinical sequences. We showed the silent circulation of EV-D68 in September 2015, the wide circulation of HAV despite few notifications of acute disease and the presence in wastewater of the major HEV subtypes involved in clinical local cases. Conclusion: The environmental surveillance overcomes the sampling bias intrinsic to the study of infections associated with hospitalisation and allows the detection in real time of viral sequences genetically close to those reported in clinical specimens.

Keywords: EV-D68; Epidemiology; clinical and environmental surveillance; enteric viruses; hepatitis A virus; hepatitis E virus; sewage; wastewater.

MeSH terms

  • Enterovirus / classification
  • Enterovirus / genetics*
  • Enterovirus / isolation & purification*
  • Enterovirus Infections / virology
  • Environmental Monitoring*
  • Feces / virology
  • France / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Pilot Projects
  • Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Waste Water / virology*
  • Water Microbiology*


  • Waste Water