Wastewater surveillance of the most common circulating respiratory viruses in Athens: The impact of COVID-19 on their seasonality.

Wastewater surveillance of the most common circulating respiratory viruses in Athens: The impact of COVID-19 on their seasonality.

Publication date: Nov 20, 2023

Due to governments’ actions to contain the spread of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), the activity of common circulating respiratory viruses was significantly disrupted after the COVID-19 pandemic and thorough surveillance of respiratory pathogens was considered essential worldwide. Wastewater-based epidemiology has proven to be a valuable tool, that provides complementary information on disease outbreaks and is increasingly used to study the infection dynamics of other viruses, apart from SARS-CoV-2. The aims of the present study were the detection of four commonly circulating respiratory viruses: SARS-CoV-2, influenza A, B and Human Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV), the evaluation of the COVID-19 pandemic impact on their seasonality and the determination of the possible common trends in the viral load of these viruses in the wastewater of the Attica region. A standardized and validated concentration and extraction protocol was used, generic for all four viruses, followed by Reverse Transcription quantitative Polymerase Chain Reaction (RT-qPCR) assays. The study proved that there was a prolonged period when all four viruses circulated in the population and an early outbreak of seasonal influenza and RSV in 2022-2023, compared to data from the pre-COVID-19 period. SARS-CoV-2, influenza A and RSV concentrations showed peak levels during December, followed by a slight decline in influenza A concentrations, followed by steady increase of influenza B concentrations in January 2023. SARS-CoV-2 was the dominant virus throughout the whole study period. This is the first study in Greece that investigated the most common circulating viruses simultaneously and in one of the largest timelines, providing crucial information about their infection dynamics during a period when an outbreak of respiratory diseases was declared by the National Public Health Organization. Presented results highlight the establishment of environmental surveillance as a non-invasive and complementary virus outbreak monitoring tool and the importance of influenza A, B and RSV integration into a wastewater-based surveillance system to help in disease management.

Concepts Keywords
Coronavirus Influenza virus
Environmental Respiratory syncytial virus
Greece SARS-CoV-2
Severe Wastewater-based epidemiology


Type Source Name
disease VO Viruses
disease MESH COVID-19
disease VO Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2
disease MESH infection
pathway KEGG Influenza A
disease VO protocol
disease VO population
disease VO Optaflu
disease MESH influenza
disease MESH respiratory diseases
disease VO organization
disease VO Respiratory syncytial virus

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