Metro Vancouver has partnered with the British Columbia Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC) to assess the fate of viruses in its Liquid Waste management system and the potential risks associated with wastewater discharges.
Viral enteric pathogens are responsible for a wide range of infections, resulting in various symptoms for humans, and include pathogens such as norovirus and rotavirus.
Current monitoring techniques mostly use surrogates or indicators of fecal contamination, such as E.coli, in the wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs) and the environment, as they are present at much higher concentrations and can be easily counted. However, their link to human disease is not necessarily direct and the risk to human health may be over- or underestimated.
The work, conducted by BCCDC’s Dr. Natalie Prystajecky and her team, employs a molecular technique called real-time quantitative polymerase chain reaction (qPCR) and focuses on viruses that directly cause disease, with the intent to better understand the sources and associated risks. Optimization of the detection and quantification methods, and development of techniques for segregation of live and dead viruses, would provide Metro Vancouver with a more accurate understanding of the fate of viruses throughout the wastewater treatment and disinfection process.
Understanding what is going into the wastewater treatment system may also provide the BCCDC with an early warning system for viral outbreaks that may be occurring in the community.