Molecular epidemiology of group A Rotaviruses in water sources and selected raw vegetables in Southern Africa04 Oct 2007
Group A rotaviruses (RVs) are the most important cause of acute viral gastroenteritis in infants and young children. In this study raw and treated drinking water supplies at plants in two geographic areas, as well as selected irrigation water and corresponding raw vegetables in three regions of southern Africa, were screened for the presence of RVs using molecular techniques. Group A RVs were detected in 11.8% of partially treated and 1.7% of finally treated drinking water samples and in 14% of irrigation water samples and 1.7% of corresponding raw vegetable samples. Type-specific reverse transcriptase-PCR and sequence analysis revealed the presence of multiple types (G1, G2, G8, and G9) in irrigation water and single types (G1 or G3) in raw and treated drinking water. Group A RVs detected in all samples consisted of mixed P types (P, P, P, and P), with P predominating. The detection of types G8, G9, and P reflects the emergence of these types in clinical infections. The similarity of environmental types to those in patients with clinical RV infections confirms the value of wastewater screening as a tool for assessing RVs circulating in communities, with the benefit of detecting types that cause both clinical and subclinical infections. The results provide new information on RV types in water and related environments and identify the potential risk of waterborne transmission. In addition, the presence of RVs in drinking water underlines shortcomings in quality specifications. These data provide valuable information regarding the prevalence of RVs in environmental sources, with important implications for vaccine development.