The prevalence and genetic diversity of human bocaviruses (HBoVs) in sewage water samples are largely unknown. In this study, 134 raw sewage samples from 25 wastewater treatment plants (WTPs) in Italy were analyzed by nested PCR and sequencing using species-specific primer pairs and broad-range primer pairs targeting the capsid proteins VP1/VP2. A large number of samples (106, 79.1 %) were positive for HBoV. Out of these, 49 were classified as HBoV species 2, and 27 as species 3. For the remaining 30 samples, sequencing results showed mixed electropherograms. By cloning PCR amplicons and sequencing, we confirmed the copresence of species 2 and 3 in 29 samples and species 2 and 4 in only one sample. A real-time PCR assay was also performed, using a newly designed TaqMan assay, for quantification of HBoVs in sewage water samples. Viral load quantification ranged from 5.51E+03 to 1.84E+05 GC/L (mean value 4.70E+04 GC/L) for bocavirus 2 and from 1.89E+03 to 1.02E+05 GC/L (mean value 2.27E+04 GC/L) for bocavirus 3. The wide distribution of HBoV in sewages suggests that this virus is common in the population, and the most prevalent are the species 2 and 3. HBoV-4 was also found, representing the first detection of this species in Italy. Although there is no indication of waterborne transmission for HBoV, the significant presence in sewage waters suggests that HBoV may spread to other water environments, and therefore, a potential role of water in the HBoV transmission should not be neglected.
Frequent Detection and Genetic Diversity of Human Bocavirus in Urban Sewage Samples.