Editorial: Detection of viruses in sludge, effluents and waters – The case of COVID-19

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by Anil V. Shah, R. M. Ramanuj, K. B. Vaghela and Sunita Varjani*
Gujarat Pollution Control Board, Sector-10A, Gandhinagar – 382010, Gujarat, India.
*Corresponding author: drsvs18@gmail.com

Abstract
Viruses may occur, survive and/or decay much differently from bacteria in water. Pathogens, if not removed properly from wastewater may enter in water bodies and cause infections. Among the diseases caused by viruses some have been reported severe. COVID-19, SARS-CoV and MERS-CoV are recent examples of how coronaviruses infect humans. We have no tools to control the disease except social isolation. COVID-19 is enveloped, non-segmented, positive-sense RNA virus having high mutation rate and it may emerge in the future and pose challenges for the water and wastewater industries. COVID-19 is having very less literature available. It is very important that it should be treated by proper treatment at source i.e. Effluent Treatment Plants (ETP) and Sewage treatment plant (STP) operators/Heath care facilities. Investigations regarding COVID-19 outbreak are on-going, and the information that we have right now may change as we learn more about this virus. Chlorination has been reported to be the proper treatment of it at source. If not treated properly this may enter in the water cycle. In this paper, exertions are mainly focused at methods of detection of various types of viruses. Future needs for the development of new technologies for virus elimination and source control have also been highlighted.

Key words: Coronaviruses, SARS, respiratory, Chlorination, Disposal

1. Introduction
Seasonal flu has been reported to be caused by viruses. During 1918-20 “Spanish” influenza virus, killed approximately 50 million people (Taubenberger and Morens, 2008). Severe respiratory illness by Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus (SARS-CoV) has emerged in Hong Kong in 2003 has been noted (Leung et al, 2003; Cheng et al, 2004). The Middle eastern respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) emerged in Saudi Arabia in 2012 is also an example of disease caused by coronavirus (Vana and Westover, 2008; Morens et al., 2012; Guery et al., 2013). H1N1 (from pigs) and Spanish flu (from birds) were deadly but it’s RNA was slower to mutate. Recently, public fear is logical, because it has been reported that in Wuhan, China, at an animal market (December 2019), the coronavirus (COVID-19) mutated and made a jump from animal to humans, in just two week time, it mutated again and gained the ability to get transmitted from human to human. It has been reported to cause great damage to human lungs (OSHA, 2020; WHO, 2020a).Now it’s a troublesome situation, because we have no natural or acquired immunity for this virus, hence it is difficult to fight with it. We have no vaccine to control the disease except social isolation.

COVID-19 is enveloped, non-segmented, positive-sense RNA virus having high mutation rate and it may emerge in the future and pose challenges for the water and wastewater handlers. As ETP plants are main entry and expiry point of virus transmission, now a days there is a chance for presence of coronaviruses in drinking as well as domestic and industrial wastewater (Guery et al., 2013; Risku et al., 2010; WHO, 2020a).

Therefore in this paper, exertions are mainly focused at methods of detection of viruses from water/wastewater. The behaviour of viruses at each stage of treatment is reviewed. Particular attention is paid to the ETP unit operations, which play crucial roles in virus removals. Future needs for the development of new technologies for virus elimination and source control are also highlighted.

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