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Infectious helminth ova in wastewater and sludge: A review on public health issues and current quantification practices

Abstract

Raw and partially treated wastewater has been widely used to maintain the global water demand. Presence of viable helminth ova and larvae in the wastewater raised significant public health concern especially when used for agriculture and aquaculture. Depending on the prevalence of helminth infections in communities, up to 1.0 × 103 ova/larvae can be presented per litre of wastewater and 4 gm (dry weight) of sludge. Multi-barrier approaches including pathogen reduction, risk assessment, and exposure reduction have been suggested by health regulators to minimise the potential health risk. However, with a lack of a sensitive and specific method for the quantitative detection of viable helminth ova from wastewater, an accurate health risk assessment is difficult to achieve. As a result, helminth infections are difficult to control from the communities despite two decades of global effort (mass drug administration). Molecular methods can be more sensitive and specific than currently adapted culture-based and vital stain methods. The molecular methods, however, required more and thorough investigation for its ability with accurate quantification of viable helminth ova/larvae from wastewater and sludge samples. Understanding different cell stages and corresponding gene copy numbers is pivotal for accurate quantification of helminth ova/larvae in wastewater samples. Identifying specific genetic markers including protein, lipid, and metabolites using multiomics approach could be utilized for cheap, rapid, sensitive, specific and point of care detection tools for helminth ova and larva in the wastewater

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