Prevalence of human pathogenic viruses in wastewater: A potential transmission risk as well as an effective tool for early outbreak detection for COVID-19

Jahangir AHMAD, Munir AHMAD, Adel R.A. USMAN, Mohammad I. AL-WABEL

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlespeer-review

Abstract

Millions of human pathogenic viral particles are shed from infected individuals and introduce into wastewater, subsequently causing waterborne diseases worldwide. These viruses can be transmitted from wastewater to human beings via direct contact and/or ingestion/inhalation of aerosols. Even the advanced wastewater treatment technologies are unable to remove pathogenic viruses from wastewater completely, posing a serious health risk. Recently, coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) has been urged globally due to severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus-2 (SARS-CoV-2), which has resulted in >4.1 million deaths until July 2021. A rapid human-to-human transmission, uncertainties in effective vaccines, non-specific medical treatments, and unclear symptoms compelled the world into complete lockdown, social distancing, air-travel suspension, and closure of educational institutions, subsequently damaging the global economy and trade. Although, few medical treatments, rapid detection tools, and vaccines have been developed so far to curb the spread of COVID-19; however, several uncertainties exist in their applicability. Further, the acceptance of vaccines among communities is lower owing to the fear of side effects such as blood-clotting and heart inflammation. SARS-CoV-2, an etiologic agent of COVID-19, has frequently been detected in wastewater, depicting a potential transmission risk to healthy individuals. Contrarily, the occurrence of SARS-CoV-2 in wastewater can be used as an early outbreak detection tool via water-based epidemiology. Therefore, the spread of SARS-CoV-2 through fecal-oral pathway can be reduced and any possible outbreak can be evaded by proper wastewater surveillance. In this review, wastewater recycling complications, potential health risks of COVID-19 emergence, and current epidemiological measures to control COVID-19 spread have been discussed. Moreover, the viability of SARS-CoV-2 in various environments and survival in wastewater has been reviewed. Additionally, the necessary actions (vaccination, face mask, social distancing, and hand sanitization) to limit the transmission of SARS-CoV-2 have been recommended. Therefore, wastewater surveillance can serve as a feasible, efficient, and reliable epidemiological measure to lessen the spread of COVID-19. Copyright © 2021 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish
Article number113486
JournalJournal of Environmental Management
Volume298
Early online dateAug 2021
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - Aug 2021

Citation

Ahmad, J., Ahmad, M., Usman, A. R. A., & Al-Wabel, M. I. (2021). Prevalence of human pathogenic viruses in wastewater: A potential transmission risk as well as an effective tool for early outbreak detection for COVID-19. Journal of Environmental Management, 298. Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jenvman.2021.113486

Keywords

  • COVID-19 pandemic
  • Lockdown
  • RNA shedding
  • Surveillance: WBE

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