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Norovirus long-term survival in water systems

Every time we see Norm Pace we get reminded that the “built environment” doesn’t just include buildings.  In particular, he points out there isn’t a lot of attention paid to the massive, understudied, and deteriorating water infrastructure in the U.S.

Today I saw an interesting article about the survival of norovirus in groundwater.  Norovirus is one of those nasty intestinal viruses that seems to often be the cause of outbreaks on cruise ships.  It was also the focus of a recent editorial by Bill Nazaroff in Indoor Air which discussed some of what is known about transmission of the virus, and the relationship to indoor air quality.

The new water study showed that norovirus remained active and able to cause illness in people (I hope they’re paid well!) for at least two months after sitting in well water.  While norovirus isn’t normally found in groundwater, contamination from leaky sewer lines and septic tanks is a potential risk, and the ability of the virus to live for a long time in the well water isn’t encouraging.


David Coil

David Coil is a Project Scientist in the lab of Jonathan Eisen at UC Davis. David works at the intersection between research, education, and outreach in the areas of the microbiology of the built environment, microbial ecology, and bacterial genomics. Twitter

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