Human norovirus (NoV) causes waterborne outbreaks worldwide suggesting their ability to persist and survive for extended periods in the environment. The objective of this study was to determine the persistence of the NoV GII genome in drinking water and wastewater at three different temperatures (3 °C, 21 °C, and 36 °C). The persistence of two NoV GII inoculums (extracted from stool) and an indigenous NoV GII were studied. The samples were collected for up to one year from drinking water and for up to 140 days from wastewater. Molecular methods (RT-qPCR) were used to assess the decay of the NoV genome. Decay rate coefficients were determined from the fitted decay curves using log-linear and/or non-linear model equations. Results showed significant differences in the decay kinetics of NoV genome between the temperatures, matrices, and virus strains. The persistence of NoV was higher in drinking water compared to wastewater, and the cold temperature assisted persistence at both matrices. Differences between the persistence of NoV strains were also evident and, particularly, indigenous NoVs persisted better than spiked NoVs in wastewater. The decay constants obtained in this study can be utilized to assess the fate of the NoV genome in different water environments.
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