Assessment of Coliphage Surrogates for Testing Drinking Water Treatment Devices

Charles P. Gerba, Sherif Abd-Elmaksoud, Huikheng Newick, Nagwa A. El-Esnawy, Ahmed Barakat, Hossam Ghanem

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Test protocols have been developed by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) and the World Health Organization (WHO) to test water treatment devices/systems that are used at the individual and home levels to ensure the removal of waterborne viruses. The goal of this study was to assess if coliphage surrogates could be used in this testing in place of the currently required use of animal or human enteric viruses. Five different coliphages (MS-2, PRD1, ΦX-174, Qβ, and fr) were compared to the removal of poliovirus type 1 (LSc-2ab) by eight different water treatment devices/systems using a general case and a challenge case (high organic load, dissolved solids, and turbidity) test water as defined by the USEPA. The performance of the units was rated as a pass/fail based on a 4 log removal/inactivation of the viruses. In all cases, a failure or a pass of the units/system for poliovirus also corresponded to a pass/fail by all of the coliphages. In summary, in using pass/fail criteria as recommended under USEPA guidelines for testing water treatment device/systems, the use of coliphages should be considered as an alternative to reduce cost and time of testing such devices/systems.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)27-31
Number of pages5
JournalFood and Environmental Virology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2014


  • Coliphages
  • Drinking water
  • Point-of-use treatment
  • Poliovirus
  • Surrogates
  • Water treatment devices

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology
  • Food Science
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis
  • Virology


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