Virological investigation on aerosol from waste depuration plants


Aerosol from activated mud decontamination plants used for the treatment of urban sewage can represent a vehicle for bacteria, virus and fungi. As a result, they become an infective hazard for plant personnel, the general population residing in the surrounding area and the occasional visitor. The present investigation focuses on the identification of enteric-type viruses in this kind of aerosol. The following methods were employed on 214 samples collected in the 1999-2000 period: cell culture (BGM, RD, Hep-2), electron microscopy, and polymerase chain reaction (PCR). Cytopathic effect was mild in 180 samples, and severe in 14, upon their first passage in culture. Virus identification was based on positivity to both electron microscopy (EM) and PCR. Thus, one positive sample was recognized to be of enteric-type virus and two positive samples were recognized as reovirus-type. All samples were negative for Norwalk-type virus or HAV. There was considerable discrepancy between electron microscopy and PCR concerning the number of enteric-type viruses recognized. A possible explanation is contamination with animal-type enterovirus.