Hepatitis A and E Viruses in Wastewaters, in River Waters, and in Bivalve Molluscs in Italy
Several studies have reported the detection of hepatitis A (HAV) and E (HEV) virus in sewage waters, indicating a possibility of contamination of aquatic environments. The objective of the present study was to assess the occurrence of HAV and HEV in different water environments, following the route of contamination from raw sewage through treated effluent to the surface waters receiving wastewater discharges . Bivalve molluscan shellfish samples were also analyzed, as sentinel of marine pollution. Samples were tested by RT-PCR nested type in the VP1/2A junction for HAV, and in the ORF1 and ORF2 regions for HEV. Hepatitis A RNA was detected in 12 water samples: 7/21 (33.3 %) raw sewage samples, 3/21 (14.3 %) treated sewage samples, and 2/27 (7.4 %) river water samples. Five sequences were classified as genotype IA, while the remaining 7 sequences belonged to genotype IB. In bivalves, HAV was detected in 13/56 samples (23.2 %), 12 genotype IB and one genotype IA. Whether the presence of HAV in the matrices tested indicates the potential for waterborne and foodborne transmission is unknown, since infectivity of the virus was not demonstrated. HEV was detected in one raw sewage sample and in one river sample, both belonging to genotype 3. Sequences were similar to sequences detected previously in Italy in patients with autochthonous HEV (no travel history) and in animals (swine). To our knowledge, this is the first detection of HEV in river waters in Italy, suggesting that surface water can be a potential source for exposure .
KeywordsHepatitis A Hepatitis E Sewages Rivers Molluscs PCR genotyping
We thank Professor Herbert W. Virgin, Washington University (St. Louis, Missouri, United States) for providing the murine NoV strain used as sample process control. The research leading to these results has received partial funding from the European Union’s Seventh Framework Programme for research, technological development, and demonstration under Grant Agreement no. 278433-PREDEMICS.
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