Systematic review of the relative concentrations of noroviruses and fecal indicator bacteria in wastewater: considerations for use in quantitative microbial risk assessment

Zelfa Hamadieh, Kerry A. Hamilton, Andrea I. Silverman

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations

Abstract

Human noroviruses are a leading cause of food- and water-borne disease, which has led to an interest in quantifying norovirus health risks using quantitative microbial risk assessment (QMRA). Given the limited availability of quantitative norovirus data to input to QMRA models, some studies have applied a conversion factor to estimate norovirus exposure based on measured fecal indicator bacteria (FIB) concentrations. We conducted a review of peer-reviewed publications to identify the concentrations of noroviruses and FIB in raw, secondary-treated, and disinfected wastewater. A meta-analysis was performed to determine the ratios of norovirus-FIB pairs in each wastewater matrix and the variables that significantly impact these ratios. Norovirus-to-FIB ratios were found to be significantly impacted by the norovirus genotype, month of sample collection, geographic location, and the extent of wastewater treatment. Additionally, we evaluated the impact of using a FIB-to-virus conversion factor in QMRA and found that the choice of conversion ratio has a great impact on estimated health risks. For example, the use of a conversion ratio previously used in the World Health Organization Guidelines for the Safe Use of Wastewater, Excreta and Greywater predicted health risks that were significantly lower than those estimated with measured norovirus concentrations used as inputs. This work emphasizes the gold standard of using measured pathogen concentrations directly as inputs to exposure assessment in QMRA. While not encouraged, if one must use a FIB-to-virus conversion ratio to estimate norovirus dose, the ratio should be chosen carefully based on the target microorganisms (i.e., strain, genotype, or class), prevalence of disease, and extent of wastewater treatment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)918-932
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Water and Health
Volume19
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 1 2021
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Fecal indicator bacteria
  • Norovirus
  • Quantitative microbial risk assessment (QMRA)
  • Wastewater treatment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Water Science and Technology
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Microbiology (medical)
  • Infectious Diseases

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