Title of the project: Implementation of concentration methods and detection of viral indicators of faecal contamination in water to the Laboratoire de Qualité de l’Eau et de l’environnment, LAQUE, Université Quisqueya, Haiti.
Participants: University of Barcelona, Université de Quisqueya and Intermon Oxfam
Period of the project: 01/06/2011 to 01/06/2012
Sources of funding: Intermon Oxfam (10000 euros) et Universitat de Barcelona (4500 euros)
Personal involved: Laura Guerrero, Marta Rusiñol, Marçal Trigo, Rosina Girones and Silvia Bofill.
The waste-water is the main source of pathogenic microorganisms that are transmitted by the fecal-oral route. Microbial contamination of the environment represents public health risk through the exposure or consumption of water and / or contaminated food. Despite the great importance of contamination by pathogenic bacteria, it is also necessary to consider the risks associated with the presence of viral pathogens that are more resistant than bacteria to treatment of filtration and other disinfection methods used and which are responsible of important diseases.
The list of virus pathogens in the waters of human consummation includes human adenovirus, polyomavirus, enterovirus, norovirus, rotavirus, astrovirus, hepatitis A and hepatitis E among others.
The diseases caused by viral infections are commonly associated with adenovirus and dangerous hepatitis A and E in adult individuals.
Other viral infections, including severe gastroenteritis in children and the elderly are generally associated with infections caused by rotavirus, adenovirus and norovirus.
The conventional indicators of bacteria (Escherichia coli and fecal coliform) traditionally used to monitor water quality and food are not a good model to predict the presence of viruses and protozoan parasites (Gerber et al 1979;. Griffin et al. 2003;. Pina et al, 1998). Viruses are more stable in the environment than traditional indicators of bacteria.
Virological surveillance of the environment is a complex process because of the difficulty of identifying low levels of virus in large volumes of dispersed sample. The detection of viruses in environmental samples therefore requires specific techniques of concentration and recovery of virus in these samples and specific detection techniques. In recent years have developed methods based on polymerase chain reaction (PCR) for detection of viruses in the environment.
The laboratory of viral contaminants from water and food led by Dr. Girones, including Dr. Bofill, calling this cooperation project, in part since 1997 has developed methods of concentration and detection of viruses and virus of different indicators the human and animal fecal contamination in environmental samples (http://www. ub.edu / microbiology / virology).
Currently, the research group is funded by Oxfam to undertake a project based on the use of ceramic filters for microbiological decontamination of water for consumption in Petit Goave, Haiti. These projects complement each other, as the study of viruses in drinking water sources as a reference for assessing the impact of the implementation of ceramic filters in the region.