Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

Abstract

The assessment of microbiological water quality within the EU for regulators and industries still relays on standardized culture techniques followed by biochemical characterization, due to their relatively low costs and technical requirements. However, culture media preparation, inoculation, colony counting and biochemical characterizations make these methods time-consuming and labour intensive and, when facing with so-called "fastidious" germs, the response could be available too late. For the detection of viruses, which are of great health and economic concern, causing severe diseases and millions of lost working days each year in EU, no current techniques are always available. Recently, increased knowledge in molecular biology and biochemistry has provided sensitive and more rapid solutions for germ identification and early warning system development. However, as long as the new procedures are not officially legitimized, their acceptance remains low.

This review gathers state-of-the-art information on the "rapid method" formats and selected problems encountered when using these assays in water and food analysis. An overview on water-related pathogens, the associated diseases and new molecular tools available for their identification presented in the perspective of urgent need for quick and reliable methods for microbial water quality assessment. Almost all the "rapid methods" described are designed to detect a single target, which makes them ideal in quality control programs to quickly screen large numbers of water/ food samples for the presence of a particular pathogen or toxin. Researchers will be able to use this information not only in epidemiological studies but also to investigate and prevent waterborne diseases. Rapid methods may lack sufficient sensitivity and specificity for direct testing of water samples and culture-enrichment before analysis or development and/ or improvement of methods to concentrate the target organisms are required. Moreover, r

Additional information

Authors: BERNASCONI C, European Commission, Joint Research Centre, Institute for Environment and Sustainability, Ispra (IT);GHIANI M, European Commission, Joint Research Centre, Institute for Environment and Sustainability, Ispra (IT);DAVERIO E, European Commission, Joint Research Centre, Institute for Environment and Sustainability, Ispra (IT);CAMOZZI M, Serizio Anatomia e Istologia Patologica e Citogenica, Milano (IT)
Bibliographic Reference: EUR 21085 EN (2004), 129 pp. Free of charge
Availability: Available from European Commission, JRC Knowledge Management Unit, Ispra (IT) Tel: +39 033278 9893 Fax: +39 033278 5409 E-mail: jrc-publications-office@ec.europa.eu or Bruxelles (BE) Tel: +32 2 295 76 24 Fax: +32 2 299 63 22
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