Sapovirus in wastewater treatment plants in Tunisia: Prevalence, removal, and genetic characterization

Miguel F. Varela, Imen Ouardani, Tsuyoshi Kato, Syunsuke Kadoya, Mahjoub Aouni, Daisuke Sano, Jesús L. Romalde

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24 Citations (Scopus)


Sapovirus (SaV), from the Caliciviridae family, is a genus of enteric viruses that cause acute gastroenteritis. SaV is shed at high concentrations with feces into wastewater, which is usually discharged into aquatic environments or reused for irrigation without efficient treatments. This study analyzed the incidence of human SaV in four wastewater treatment plants from Tunisia during a period of 13 months (December 2009 to December 2010). Detection and quantification were carried out using reverse transcription-quantitative PCR (RT-qPCR) methods, obtaining a prevalence of 39.9% (87/ 218). Sixty-one positive samples were detected in untreated water and 26 positive samples in processed water. The Dekhila plant presented the highest contamination levels, with a 63.0% prevalence. A dominance of genotype I.2 was observed on 15 of the 24 positive samples that were genetically characterized. By a Bayesian estimation algorithm, the SaV density in wastewater was estimated using left-censored data sets. The mean value of log SaV concentration in untreated wastewater ranged between 2.7 and 4.5 logs. A virus removal efficiency of 0.2 log was calculated for the Dekhila plant as the log ratio posterior distributions between untreated and treated wastewater. Multiple quantitative values obtained in this study must be available in quantitative microbial risk assessment in Tunisia as parameter values reflecting local conditions.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere02093-17
JournalApplied and Environmental Microbiology
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2018 Mar 1


  • Bayesian estimation
  • Genotyping
  • Human sapovirus
  • RT-qPCR
  • Tunisia
  • Wastewater


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