Tuesday April 14th, 2020 Water Blog


Part 1 Water and Wastewater as a valuable indicator of biological infections


The provision of safe water, sanitation, and hygienic conditions can offer protection from any infectious disease, including COVID-19. Environmental surveillance of SARS-CoV-2 could be a valuable source of data, highlighting if the virus is circulating in the human population.

Drinking water quality is one of the greatest factors affecting human health. However, drinking water quality in many countries, especially in developing countries is not desirable and poor drinking water quality has induced many waterborne diseases. Globally, the microbiological quality of drinking-water has been implicated in the spread of important infectious and parasitic diseases such as cholera, typhoid, dysentery, hepatitis, giardiasis, guinea worm and schistosomiasis.

We know that information available to date shows that SARs-COV-2 does not reach treated drinking water. Some of this evidence stems from work done on the original SARs virus in 2009.

Recent evidence from work going on in The Netherlands and in Arizona, shows that the virus is detected in sewage.  Whether SARS-CoV-2 is viable under environmental conditions that could facilitate faecal–oral transmission is not yet fully clear. [1] Therefore, wastewater is a good area of study to compliment public health practices. Enteric transmission of SARS- CoV-2 is possible and exposure to SARS-CoV-2 in wastewater could pose a health risk, according to Lodder and de Roda Husman 1.

To date there is no evidence of the virus being present in treated wastewater.

It is important to start to use water and wastewater as sources of really valuable information on biological infections by implementing a monitoring programme that can assist public health guidance efforts.



[1] Willemijn Lodder,*Ana Maria de Roda Husman, Lancet Gastroenterol Hepatol (2020) Published Online April 1, 2020 https://doi.org/10.1016/ S2468-1253(20)30087-X

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