• Virus inactivation in groundwater in a postglacial lava field in arctic climate.

Virus inactivation in groundwater in a postglacial lava field in arctic climate.

Letters in applied microbiology (2020-01-03)
E Benediktsdóttir, M J Gunnarsdóttir, B D Ómarsdóttir, V Í Sigurjónsson, S M Gardarsson

Outbreaks of viral gastroenteritis are often connected to contaminated drinking water. The assessment of the water quality relies on the cultivation of indicator bacteria, and little is known of the fate of viruses in groundwater, especially in arctic regions. In Iceland, the groundwater temperature is between 3 and 6°C. The aim of this study was to determine virus inactivation at low temperature in a groundwater microcosm and in a borehole in a postglacial lava field. Two phage species that are commonly used as surrogates for norovirus were used, MS2 and PhiX174. Dialysis bags were used for the samples, and a device was constructed to hold many samples at a time and protect the samples in the borehole. No significant decrease of infective PhiX174 phages in the borehole or of the MS2 phages in the microcosm was observed. A slightly significant decrease of PhiX174 in the microcosm was noticed, with one log reduction time of 476 days. On the other hand, a significant reduction in MS2 was found in the field test, where the time needed for 90% reduction was 12·5 days. The results showed that an infective virus can exist in groundwater for months or years in arctic regions and a great difference may exist between results from microcosm and field tests. SIGNIFICANCE AND IMPACT OF THE STUDY: This study reveals that arctic regions are highly sensitive to virus contamination as an infective virus may exist in groundwater for years at low temperature. The results also show that the virus inactivation observed in field tests may differ considerably from the inactivation observed in laboratory microcosms. The results emphasize the importance of large protection zones around drinking water intakes as well as good wastewater treatment so that the likelihood of faecal contamination of groundwater is reduced.

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Dialysis tubing cellulose membrane, avg. flat width 25 mm (1.0 in.)