Assessment of wastewater derived pollution using viral monitoring in two estuaries

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Human wastewater-derived pollution of the environment is an emerging health risk that increases the number of waterborne and foodborne illnesses globally. To better understand and mitigate such health risks, we investigated the prevalence of faecal indicator bacteria, Escherichia coli, and indicator virus (crAssphage) along with human and animal enteric viruses (adenoviruses, noroviruses, sapoviruses, hepatitis E virus) in shellfish and water samples collected from two shellfish harvesting areas in the UK. Human noroviruses were detected at higher detection rates in oyster and water samples compared to mussels with peaks during the autumn-winter seasons. Human enteric viruses were sporadically detected during the warmer months, suggesting potential introduction by tourists following the relaxation of COVID-19 lockdown measures. Our results suggest that viral indicators are more suitable for risk assessment and source tracking than E. coli. The detection of emerging hepatitis and sapoviruses, support the need for comprehensive viral monitoring in shellfish harvesting areas.

Original languageEnglish
Article number116081
JournalMarine pollution bulletin
Early online date13 Feb 2024
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2024
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