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Occurrence Of Enteric Viruses In Surface Water And The Relationship With Changes In Season And Physical Water Quality Dynamics

Wasonga Michael Opere, Maingi John, Omwoyo Ombori

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Environmental water quality issues have dominated global discourse and studies over the past five decades. Significant parameters of environmental water quality include changes in biological and physical parameters. Some of the biological parameters of significance include occurrence of enteric viruses. Enteric viruses can affect both human and animal’s health by causing diseases such as gastrointestinal and respiratory infections. In this study, the relationship between the occurrence of enteric viruses with reference to adenoviruses and enteroviruses and the physical water quality characteristics was assessed from water samples collected from Lake Victoria (LV) in Kenya. In order to understand the dynamics of season driven enteric viruses’ contamination of the lake waters, we additionally analysed seasonal behavior of the lake’s catchment area in terms of rainfall effects. Physical quality parameters were measured on-site while viral analysis was carried out by molecular methods using the nested polymerase chain reaction (nPCR). From 216 samples that were analysed for viral contamination, enteric viral genomes were discovered in 18 (8.3%) of the samples. Out of half of the samples (108) collected during the rainy season, enteric viral genomes were detected in 9.26% (10) while 8 (7.41%) samples tested positive from the other half of the samples (108) collected during the dry season. There was, however, no significant correlation noted between the physical water quality characteristics and the enteric viruses’ occurrence. Neither wet season nor dry season was significantly associated with the prevalence of the viruses. In Lake Victoria waters, most of the samples had an average of physical water quality parameters that were within the range accepted by the World Health Organization (WHO) for surface waters with exemption of turbidity which was above the recommended 5 NTU as recorded from some sampling sites. Continuous and long-term surveillance of the lake water to accurately monitor the contaminants and possible correlation between chemical, physical, and biological characteristics is recommended. This would be important in continuous understanding of the hydrological characteristics changes of the lake for proper management of its quality with reference to the WHO standards. A multiple varied-sampling approach in different geographical regions during different seasons is recommended to establish the geographical distribution and relatedness to seasonal distribution patterns of the viruses. The data generated from this study will be useful in providing a basis for assessment of seasonally driven fecal pollution load of the lake and enteric virus contamination for proper management of the sanitary situation around the lake.