Drinking and other types of waters in three Latin American countries were sampled for the presence of enteroviruses, rotaviruses, and coliphages. Large volumes of water and sewage were concentrated using a positively charged filter for the detection of enteric viruses. Statistical analyses indicated no correlation between the presence or absence of fecal coliforms, total coliforms, fecal streptococci, and viruses. Total coliforms and fecal streptococci were isolated in large numbers from pristine tropical rain forest streams, but no enteric viruses were detected in any of the same samples. All streams contaminated with sewage contained enteric viruses and high levels of indicator bacteria. These results indicate that at the present time there is no reliable indicator of the presence of viruses in waters. The presence of coliphages in waters seemed associated with fecal contamination. The large numbers of fecal streptococci and coliforms (both fecal and total) present in the waters sampled may not necessarily indicate that these waters are contaminated with fecal waste.
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