124 Scopus citations


Adenoviruses are associated with numerous disease outbreaks, particularly those involving d-cares, schools, children's camps, hospitals and other health care centers, and military settings. In addition, adenoviruses have been responsible for many recreational water outbreaks, including a greater number of swimming pool outbreaks than any other waterborne virus (Gerba and Enriquez 1997). Two drinking water outbreaks have been documented for adenovirus (Divizia et al. 2004; Kukkula et al. 1997) but none for food. Of the 51 known adenovirus serotypes, one third are associated with human disease, while other infections are asymptomatic. Human diseases associated with adenovirus infections include gastroenteritis, respiratory infections, eye infections, acute hemorrhagic cystitis, and meningoencephalitis (Table 2). Children and the immunocompromised are more severely impacted by adenovirus infections. Subsequently, adenovirus is included in the EPA's Drinking Water Contaminant Candidate List (CCL), which is a list of unregulated contaminants found in public water systems that may pose a risk to public health (National Research Council 1999). Adenoviruses have been detected in various waters worldwide including wastewater, river water, oceans, and swimming pools (Hurst et al. 1988; Irving and Smith 1981; Pina et al. 1998). Adenoviruses typically outnumber the enteroviruses, when both are detected in surface waters. Chapron et al. (2000) found that 38% of 29 surface water samples were positive for infectious Ad40 and Ad41. Data are lacking, Waterborne Adenovirus 159 regarding the occurrence of adenovirus in water in the US, particularly for groundwater and drinking water. Studies have shown, however, that adenoviruses survive longer in water than enteroviruses and hepatitis A virus (Enriquez et al. 1995), which may be due to their double-stranded DNA. Risk assessments have been conducted on waterborne adenovirus (Crabtree et al. 1997; van Heerden et al. 2005c). Using dose-response data for inhalation from Couch et al. (1966), human health risks of infection, illness and death have been determined for various adenovirus exposures. Crabtree et al. (1997) conclude that, even at an adenovirus concentration of 1 per 1,000 L of drinking water, annual risks of infection exceed the suggested risk recommendation of 1 × 10-4 per yr (Regli et al. 1991) (Table 8). Using the same exposure and dose-response assumptions, van Heerden et al. (2005c) determined annual risks of infection to be 1-1.7 × 10-1 for two drinking water samples from South Africa containing 1.40 and 2.45 adenoviruses per 10,000 L, respectively. This present study estimated annual risks of infection associated with varying levels of adenoviruses per 100 L (Table 9). By assuming a 2 L/d exposure and utilizing the exponential model at r = 0.4172 (Haas et al. 1993), yearly risks exceed the risk recommendation of 1 × 10-4 at every exposure level. There are limited data regarding the removal of adenoviruses by conventional water treatment or other physical-chemical treatment processes, but studies do suggest that adenoviruses are of equal or greater sensitivity to oxidizing disinfectants, when compared to other waterborne viruses (the most resistant to ultraviolet light). Data suggest that the chlorine doses applied to control other waterborne viruses are more effective against adenovirus, resulting in a greater than 4-log10 removal of adenoviruses by conventional treatment and chlorination. If treatment can achieve a 4-log10 removal of adenoviruses, then, based on the risk levels presented in Table 9, surface water concentrations should not exceed 0.5 adenoviruses per 100 L (Fig. 2). More data are needed regarding the occurrence of adenovirus in groundwater and drinking water, the effectiveness of water treatment against adenovirus, and the human-virus dose-response relationship to fully understand the role of adenovirus as a waterborne public health threat.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationReviews of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology Volume 198
Number of pages35
StatePublished - 2009

Publication series

NameReviews of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology
ISSN (Print)0179-5953

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pollution
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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