Currently, the standard method for the detection of enteroviruses and hepatitis A virus in water involves cell culture assay which is expensive and time consuming. Direct RT-PCR offers a rapid and sensitive alternative to virus detection but sensitivity is often reduced by PCR inhibitory substances and the requirement for small reaction volumes. Rapid methods for detection of infectious enteroviruses in PCR inhibitory environmental samples are being developed utilising an integrated cell culture/PCR approach (ICC/PCR). With this approach, 300–4001 of water were concentrated using charged filters followed by a modified 11, 1.5% BEV/glycine elution and organic flocculation reconcentration. Water concentrates were analysed by direct RT-PCR, conventional cell culture and ICC/PCR. For ICC/PCR, sample concentrates were incubated with BGM or FRhK cells for 24–48h. The cell culture lysates were collected following freeze-thaw cycles, centrifuged, resin column purified and PCR amplified. In this study viruses known to be present by cell culture analysis could not be detected by direct PCR. Using the integrated method, virus concentrations as low as 0.001MPN/l of original water were detected in samples which were previously inhibitory to direct PCR. In addition, confirmed enterovirus results were achieved as soon as 48h against 5–16d with cell culture alone. Therefore, the integrated approach overcame some of the traditional problems associated with conventional cell culture and direct RT-PCR by allowing rapid, confirmed detection of low levels of enteroviruses in PCR inhibitory samples.

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