Adenovirus-associated health risks for recreational activities in a multi-use coastal watershed based on site-specific quantitative microbial risk assessment
Date of Issue2013
School of Civil and Environmental Engineering
We used site-specific quantitative microbial risk assessment (QMRA) to assess the probability of adenovirus illness for three groups of swimmers: adults with primary contact, children with primary contact, and secondary contact regardless of age. Human enteroviruses and adenoviruses were monitored by qPCR in a multi-use watershed and Adenovirus type 40/41 was detected in 11% of 73 samples, ranging from 147 to 4117 genomes per liter. Enterovirus was detected only once (32 genomes per liter). Seven of eight virus detections occurred when E. coli concentrations were below the single sample maximum water quality criterion for contact recreation, and five of eight virus detections occurred when fecal coliforms were below the corresponding criterion. We employed dose-harmonization to convert viral genome measurements to TCID50 values needed for dose–response curves. The three scenarios considered different amounts of water ingestion and Monte Carlo simulation was used to account for the variability associated with the doses. The mean illness risk in children based on adenovirus measurements obtained over 11 months was estimated to be 3.5%, which is below the 3.6% risk considered tolerable by the current United States EPA recreational criteria for gastrointestinal illnesses (GI). The mean risks of GI illness for adults and secondary contact were 1.9% and 1.0%, respectively. These risks changed appreciably when different distributions were fitted to the data as determined by Monte Carlo simulations. In general, risk was at a maximum for the log-logistic distribution and lowest for the hockey stick distribution in all three selected scenarios. Also, under default assumptions, the risk was lowered considerably when assuming that only a small proportion of Adenovirus 40/41 (3%) was as infectious as Adenovirus type 4, compared to the assumption that all genomes were Adenovirus 4. In conclusion, site-specific QMRA on water-borne adenoviruses in this watershed provided a similar level of protection against public health risks as would be obtained by enumeration of fecal indicator bacteria under the new U.S. EPA guidelines.