Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Mineral water contamination claim

08.04.2002


Signs of virus from human faeces found in bottled water.

Mineral water is marketed for its purity. But Swiss scientists are claiming that some brands may be contaminated with human faeces.

In 11 of 29 European brands of bottled mineral water Christian Beuret and colleagues of the Cantonal Food Laboratory in Solothurn found signs of the virus that causes more than 90% of the world’s stomach upsets 1,2. The virus is called Norwalk-like virus or NLV.



"We didn’t believe the results at first, so we got them independently confirmed by a private Swiss lab," says Beuret. "We think human faeces are sporadically contaminating the water either at the source or some time during the bottling procedure." They have no idea how this might be occurring.

Nor do the scientists know whether or not the water poses a health risk, as the samples cannot be tested for infectiveness. But unpublished evidence suggests that low levels of the virus in mineral water may give some elderly people gastroenteritis.

The findings are contentious but raise real concerns, says Barry Vipond of the Public Health Laboratory in Bristol, UK. "Current views are that you only need a very low level - in the range they found - of active virus for it to be infectious," he says. However, he cautions that the technique Beuret’s team used, called RT-PCR, is prone to contamination.

The mineral-water industry also picks up on this point. A statement from a leading company that markets bottled water says: "The RT-PCR technique is not suited to the routine analysis of potentially very weakly contaminated water." It also points out that NLV was not detected when six laboratories, including Beuret’s, analysed 300 bottles of five brands. This study has not been published.

Water margins

NLV’s genome is made not of double strands of DNA but its single-stranded relative RNA. In the mineral water Beuret’s team detected RNA sequences commonly found in the faeces of people infected with NLV.

A year later, nine out of ten virus-containing bottles were still contaminated. Such longevity suggests that an envelope of proteins surrounds the virus protecting its RNA. These proteins also make the virus infectious.

But NLV RNA has been spotted in healthy people, says Tamie Ando, who studies viral gastroenteritis at the National Centre for Infectious Diseases in Atlanta. So some strains may lie dormant in the body without causing disease, he says.

"Although we don’t know whether the strains found in the mineral water are dangerous, the work is very important because we need to learn how our environment has been contaminated by these viruses," Ando says.

References
  1. Beuret, C., Kohler, D. & Luthi, T. "Norwalk-like Virus Sequences" detected by reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction in mineral waters imported into or bottled in Switzerland. Journal of Food Protection, 63, 1576 - 1582, (2000).
  2. Beuret, C., Kohler, D., Baumgartner, A. & Luthi, T.M. Norwalk-like virus (NVL)-sequences in mineral waters: One year monitering of three brands. Applied and Environmental Microbiology, 68, 1925 - 1931, (2002).


NATASHA MACDOWELL | © Nature News Service

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht Routing gene therapy directly into the brain
07.12.2017 | Boston Children's Hospital

nachricht New Hope for Cancer Therapies: Targeted Monitoring may help Improve Tumor Treatment
01.12.2017 | Berliner Institut für Gesundheitsforschung / Berlin Institute of Health (BIH)

All articles from Health and Medicine >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Scientists channel graphene to understand filtration and ion transport into cells

Tiny pores at a cell's entryway act as miniature bouncers, letting in some electrically charged atoms--ions--but blocking others. Operating as exquisitely sensitive filters, these "ion channels" play a critical role in biological functions such as muscle contraction and the firing of brain cells.

To rapidly transport the right ions through the cell membrane, the tiny channels rely on a complex interplay between the ions and surrounding molecules,...

Im Focus: Towards data storage at the single molecule level

The miniaturization of the current technology of storage media is hindered by fundamental limits of quantum mechanics. A new approach consists in using so-called spin-crossover molecules as the smallest possible storage unit. Similar to normal hard drives, these special molecules can save information via their magnetic state. A research team from Kiel University has now managed to successfully place a new class of spin-crossover molecules onto a surface and to improve the molecule’s storage capacity. The storage density of conventional hard drives could therefore theoretically be increased by more than one hundred fold. The study has been published in the scientific journal Nano Letters.

Over the past few years, the building blocks of storage media have gotten ever smaller. But further miniaturization of the current technology is hindered by...

Im Focus: Successful Mechanical Testing of Nanowires

With innovative experiments, researchers at the Helmholtz-Zentrums Geesthacht and the Technical University Hamburg unravel why tiny metallic structures are extremely strong

Light-weight and simultaneously strong – porous metallic nanomaterials promise interesting applications as, for instance, for future aeroplanes with enhanced...

Im Focus: Virtual Reality for Bacteria

An interdisciplinary group of researchers interfaced individual bacteria with a computer to build a hybrid bio-digital circuit - Study published in Nature Communications

Scientists at the Institute of Science and Technology Austria (IST Austria) have managed to control the behavior of individual bacteria by connecting them to a...

Im Focus: A space-time sensor for light-matter interactions

Physicists in the Laboratory for Attosecond Physics (run jointly by LMU Munich and the Max Planck Institute for Quantum Optics) have developed an attosecond electron microscope that allows them to visualize the dispersion of light in time and space, and observe the motions of electrons in atoms.

The most basic of all physical interactions in nature is that between light and matter. This interaction takes place in attosecond times (i.e. billionths of a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

See, understand and experience the work of the future

11.12.2017 | Event News

Innovative strategies to tackle parasitic worms

08.12.2017 | Event News

AKL’18: The opportunities and challenges of digitalization in the laser industry

07.12.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Midwife and signpost for photons

11.12.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

How do megacities impact coastal seas? Searching for evidence in Chinese marginal seas

11.12.2017 | Earth Sciences

PhoxTroT: Optical Interconnect Technologies Revolutionized Data Centers and HPC Systems

11.12.2017 | Information Technology

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>