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Schernewski, G., Huttula, T., Jülich, W.-D., Podsechin, V., Tejakusuma, I.. Water quality problems in Baltic coastal waters: The Odra river as a source of human pathogenic viruses. In: Proceedings of the International Conference 'Sustainable Management of Transboundary Waters in Europe' pp. 341-345 . Szczecin, 2002.


The hygienic bathing water quality, based on E.coli bacteria measurements, in the Szczecin Lagoon, the Oder estuary and along the Baltic Sea coast nowadays can be regarded as good or very good. Beside E.coli bacteria, human pathogenic viruses can be expected in all surface waters that are affected by municipal sewage. There is an increasing awareness that predisposed persons can be infected by a few infective units or even one active virus. Another new aspect is, that at least Polioviruses attached to suspended particles can be active over weeks and therefore be transported over long distances. The highest risk of virus inputs for the Odra estuary arise from large amounts of untreated sewage of the city of Szczecin (Poland). The sewage water is released into the river Odra and transported to the lagoon and the Baltic Sea. On the basis of 2D-flow model simulations and laboratory results the potential hazard of virus infections along beaches and shores of the Odra lagoon and adjacent parts of the Baltic Sea is re-evaluated. As a concrete example the weather, flow and transport situation during August 14, 2001 is presented. Despite several uncertainties arising from the scenario, the simulations and especially the laboratory experiments, the results suggest that viruses attached to suspended matter can affect large areas of the lagoon. We have to conclude that human pathogenic viruses are potentially an underestimated risk in coastal waters and should be measured regularly within the hygienic bathing water quality monitoring programme.

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