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Assessment of Suitable Drinking Water Technologies for Disinfection of DNA Viruses: Providing Global Safe Water

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Abstract:

Waterborne pathogens are increasingly a worldwide concern in drinking water because of their ability to cause high levels of morbidity and mortality. Especially in developing regions, a lack of access to safe drinking water, adequate sanitation, and resources to implement water treatment processes contributes to the spread of these pathogens. Without adequate protection of drinking water sources, waters can become heavily contaminated by human and animal waste which contributes to the spread of a range of pathogens including viruses. Because of the high prevalence of waterborne diseases, current and emerging technologies for water disinfection are important to study in these areas. Point-of-use disinfection technologies are a viable treatment method in developing regions and implementation has showed an improvement in health and the potential for a sustainable solution; however, many systems currently used are not always completely effective in these challenging surface waters common to developing regions. Small community scale systems are also common in developing regions, but sometimes do not have adequate disinfection steps to prevent the spread of disease. Emerging pathogens are also of concern in water treatment for communities in developed regions as they can be highly resistant to certain treatment technologies. Viruses are of particular concern not only because of their virulence and ability to have high resistance to inactivation, but also because of the limited knowledge available. Viruses pathogenic to humans are not easy to study in the laboratory or in the field because of strict biosafety regulations. Additionally, human viruses typically require the use of cell cultures which are time consuming to propagate, expensive, easily contaminated, and require specific conditions for growth that can be nearly impossible to achieve in regions that have no access to electricity. Because of these challenges, there is a need to identify appropriate viral pathogen surrogates for testing the robustness of treatment technologies in the field and laboratory.

A human pathogenic DNA virus, adenovirus, is present globally in drinking water sources and can cause of a variety of human health effects. Adenovirus is known to be highly resistant to disinfection technologies such as ultraviolet (UV) light, combined chlorine, and solar disinfection (SODIS). One of the most commonly used surrogates is the single-stranded RNA bacteriophage MS2, which does not show similar inactivation to some human viruses including adenovirus. Because of its similar size, morphology, and genome replication mechanism, the DNA bacteriophage PRD1 is a promising surrogate for adenovirus. Additionally, researchers have hypothesized that the two viruses are evolutionarily related. PRD1 has numerous gramnegative bacteria host organisms including Escherichia coli and Salmonella typhimurium. This research investigates if PRD1 with appropriate host is a proper surrogate for adenovirus serotype 2 when exposed to chemical disinfectants, ultraviolet light, and sunlight, through the comparison of inactivation kinetics. Since the two viruses have such similar capsid structures, using PRD1 as a surrogate for adenovirus may help to elucidate mechanisms of inactivation of adenovirus. Elucidating the mechanism of inactivation of the virus could then lead to the development of more robust drinking water disinfection technologies and the development of sensors to detect viruses in drinking water. Identifying a surrogate would be exceptionally useful for furthering laboratory research and for improving drinking water disinfection systems globally.

Keywords: Disinfection; PRD1; adenovirus; drinking water; virus inactivation

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: https://doi.org/10.2175/193864711802863706

Publication date: 2011-01-01

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