Organized by the International Water Association
Diseases associated with lack of access to safe drinking water, inadequate sanitation and poor hygiene are the major causes of child mortality worldwide. During humanitarian crises, the availability of safe drinking-water sources become the biggest priority due to overcrowding and the easy transmission of fecal pathogens. Many orally transmitted viruses produce subclinical infection and symptoms are only observed in a small proportion of the population. However, some viruses may give rise to life-threatening conditions such as acute hepatitis in adults, as well as severe gastroenteritis in small children and the elderly. Human adenovirus (HAdV) and rotavirus are the most important pathogens for viral gastroenteritis in children; adenoviruses are also associated with pneumonia and respiratory diseases. Other water-borne diseases are acute hepatitis A and E caused by Hepatitis A and E viruses (HAV and HEV) with significant associated mortality, especially in pregnant women infected with HEV. Those viruses are excreted in faeces or urine and have been found in a variety of aquatic environments including contaminated ground water, river water or seawater.Most of the water quality directives or guidelines use faecal bacteria (E. coli and enterococci) as water quality indicators (FIB), but it is well known that these indicators can fail to predict the risk of waterborne pathogens including viruses.
VirWaTest is a project to develop innovative, portable and affordable equipment for detection of viruses in water samples. The pilot will use existing knowledge on lowcost protocols for virus concentration and detection in water samples to develop a laboratory-independent and affordable method for detection of viruses in humanitarian crisis settings.