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Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2017, 14(6), 558;

Enteric Viruses and Fecal Bacteria Indicators to Assess Groundwater Quality and Suitability for Irrigation

Department of Biomedical Science and Human Oncology, University of Bari Aldo Moro, Piazza G. Cesare 11, 70124 Bari, Italy
Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences and Technologies, University of Salento, Via per Monteroni, Campus Ecotekne, Monteroni di Lecce, 73047 Lecce, Italy
Water Research Institute, National Research Council, Viale Francesco de Blasio 5, 70132 Bari, Italy
National Institute of Health, Department of Environment and Health, Viale Regina Elena 299, 00100 Rome, Italy
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editors: Warish Ahmed and David J. Beale
Received: 25 March 2017 / Revised: 20 May 2017 / Accepted: 22 May 2017 / Published: 24 May 2017
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According to Italian Ministerial Decree No. 185 of 12 June 2003, water is considered suitable for irrigation if levels of fecal bacteria (i.e., Escherichia coli and Salmonella) are within certain parameters. The detection of other microorganisms is not required. The aim of this study is to determine the bacteriological quality of groundwater used for irrigation and the occurrence of enteric viruses (Norovirus, Enterovirus, Rotavirus, Hepatovirus A), and to compare the presence of viruses with the fecal bacteria indicators. A total of 182 wells was analyzed. Widespread fecal contamination of Apulian aquifers was detected (141 wells; 77.5%) by the presence of fecal bacteria (i.e., E. coli, Salmonella, total coliforms, and enterococci). Considering bacteria included in Ministerial Decree No. 185, the water from 35 (19.2%) wells was unsuitable for irrigation purposes. Among 147 wells with water considered suitable, Norovirus, Rotavirus, and Enterovirus were detected in 23 (15.6%) wells. No Hepatovirus A was isolated. Consequently, 58 wells (31.9%) posed a potential infectious risk for irrigation use. This study revealed the inadequacy of fecal bacteria indicators to predict the occurrence of viruses in groundwater and it is the first in Italy to describe the presence of human rotaviruses in well water used for irrigation. View Full-Text
Keywords: groundwater pollution; irrigation; wells; Norovirus; Rotavirus; Enterovirus groundwater pollution; irrigation; wells; Norovirus; Rotavirus; Enterovirus

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De Giglio, O.; Caggiano, G.; Bagordo, F.; Barbuti, G.; Brigida, S.; Lugoli, F.; Grassi, T.; La Rosa, G.; Lucentini, L.; Uricchio, V.F.; De Donno, A.; Montagna, M.T. Enteric Viruses and Fecal Bacteria Indicators to Assess Groundwater Quality and Suitability for Irrigation. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2017, 14, 558.

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