Environmental surveillance of norovirus genogroups I and II for sensitive detection of epidemic variants

Shinobu Kazama, Takayuki Miura, Yoshifumi Masago, Yoshimitsu Konta, Kentaro Tohma, Takafumi Manaka, Xiaofang Liu, Daisuke Nakayama, Takashi Tanno, Mayuko Saito, Hitoshi Oshitani, Tatsuo Omura

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67 Citations (Scopus)


Sewage samples have been investigated to study the norovirus concentrations in sewage or the genotypes of noroviruses circulating in human populations. However, the statistical relationship between the concentration of the virus and the number of infected individuals and the clinical importance of genotypes or strains detected in sewage are unclear. In this study, we carried out both environmental and clinical surveillance of noroviruses for 3 years, 2013 to 2016. We performed cross-correlation analysis of the concentrations of norovirus GI or GII in sewage samples collected weekly and the reported number of gastroenteritis cases. Norovirus genotypes in sewage were also analyzed by pyrosequencing and compared with those identified in stool samples. The cross-correlation analysis found the peak coefficient (R = 0.51) at a lag of zero, indicating that the variation in the GII concentration, expressed as the log10 number of copies per milliliter, was coincident with that in the gastroenteritis cases. A total of 15 norovirus genotypes and up to 8 genotypes per sample were detected in sewage, which included all of the 13 genotypes identified in the stool samples except 2. GII.4 was most frequently detected in both sample types, followed by GII.17. Phylogenetic analysis revealed that a strain belonging to the GII.17 Kawasaki 2014 lineage had been introduced into the study area in the 2012-2013 season. An increase in GI.3 cases was observed in the 2015- 2016 season, and sewage monitoring identified the presence of GI.3 in the previous season (2014-2015). Our results demonstrated that monitoring of noroviruses in sewage is useful for sensitive detection of epidemic variants in human populations.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere03406-16
JournalApplied and Environmental Microbiology
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 2017 May 1


  • Massive parallel sequencing
  • Molecular epidemiology
  • Norovirus
  • Rapid detection of epidemic
  • Sewage
  • Virological surveillance


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