Líffræðifélag Íslands - biologia.is
Líffræðiráðstefnan 2019

Erindi/veggspjald / Talk/poster E65

Inactivation of viruses in groundwater in postglacial lava field in arctic climate

Höfundar / Authors: Eva Benediktsdóttir (1), María J. Gunnarsdóttir (2), Berglind Dögg Ómarsdóttir (1), Vilhjálmur Í. Sigurjónsson (2), Sigurður M. Gardarsson (2)

Starfsvettvangur / Affiliations: 1. Institute of Life and Environmental Sciences, University of Iceland, Reykjavík, Iceland 2. Engineering Research Institute, University of Iceland, Reykjavík, Iceland

Kynnir / Presenter: Eva Benediktsdóttir

Waterborne disease outbreaks are of major concern to public health worldwide. Contaminated drinking water is often connected to outbreaks of viral gastroenteritis. The assessment of the water quality relies on cultivation of indicator bacteria, but studies of viral inactivation in groundwater are lacking. Low temperature is a key factor in the persistence of viruses, making arctic regions vulnerable to viral contamination.
The aim of this study was to determine the decay of viruses at low temperature in a borehole in a postglacial lava field and in a groundwater microcosm. Two phage species that are commonly used as surrogates for norovirus were used, MS2 and φX174. The results revealed a very slow inactivation of both phages in the microcosm study and of φX174 in the borehole, with decimal reduction time from 476 up to 1429 days. Conversely, the decimal reduction time of the MS2 phages in the borehole was 12.5 days.
This study reveals that arctic regions are highly sensitive to virus contamination as an infective virus may exist in groundwater for years at low temperature. The results also show that the decay of a virus observed in boreholes may differ considerably from the decay observed in laboratory microcosms. The results emphasise the importance of large protection zones around water intakes as well as good wastewater treatment so that the likelihood of faecal contamination of groundwater is reduced.