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Journal of Environmental Quality Abstract - Surface Water Quality

Evaluating Sewage-Associated JCV and BKV Polyomaviruses for Sourcing Human Fecal Pollution in a Coastal River in Southeast Queensland, Australia


This article in JEQ

  1. Vol. 39 No. 5, p. 1743-1750
    Received: Feb 12, 2010

    * Corresponding author(s): shuhat@yahoo.com
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  1. W. Ahmed *a,
  2. C. Wana,
  3. A. Goonetillekeb and
  4. T. Gardnera
  1. a Dep. of Environment and Resource Management, 80 Meiers Rd., Indooroopilly, Brisbane, 4068, Australia
    b School of Urban Development, Queensland Univ. of Technology, Brisbane, 4001, Australia. Assigned to Associate Editor James Entry


In this study, the host-sensitivity and host-specificity of JC virus (JCV) and BK virus (BKV) polyomaviruses were evaluated by testing wastewater and fecal samples from nine host groups in Southeast Queensland, Australia. The JCV and BKV polyomaviruses were detected in 63 human wastewater samples collected from primary and secondary effluent, suggesting high sensitivity of these viruses in human wastewater. In the 81 animal wastewater and fecal samples tested, 80 were polymerase chain reaction (PCR) negative for the JCV and BKV markers. Only one sample (out of 81 animal wastewater and fecal samples) from pig wastewater was positive. Nonetheless, the overall host-specificity of these viruses to differentiate between human and animal wastewater and fecal samples was 0.99. To our knowledge, this is the first study in Australia that reports on the high specificity of JCV and BKV polyomaviruses. To evaluate the field application of these viral markers for detecting human fecal pollution, 20 environmental samples were collected from a coastal river. In the 20 samples tested, 15% (3/20) and 70% (14/20) samples exceeded the regulatory guidelines for Escherichia coli and enterococci levels for marine waters. In all, five (25%) samples were PCR positive for JCV and BKV, indicating the presence of human fecal pollution in the coastal river investigated. The results suggest that JCV and BKV detection using PCR could be a useful tool for identifying human-sourced fecal pollution in coastal waters.

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Copyright © 2010. American Society of Agronomy, Crop Science Society of America, Soil Science SocietyAmerican Society of Agronomy, Crop Science Society of America, and Soil Science Society of America