Epidemiology of Viral Foodborne Disease

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Virus transmission via foods begins with fecal shedding of viruses by humans. Foodbome viruses infect perorally: These same agents have alternative fecal-oral routes, including person-to-person transmission and the water vehicle. No zoonotic viruses are transmitted via foods in North America. Viruses rank high among foodbome disease agents in the United States, even though observation, diagnosis, and reporting of foodbome viral disease are inefficient. Risk assessment in developed countries considers viral infection rates and personal hygiene of food handlers, as well as the opportunities for contamination of shellfish and other foods by untreated sewage. Licensing of a vaccine against hepatitis A that could be administered to food handlers in North America would provide an important means of preventing foodbome viral disease. However, the most general concern in preventing all foodbome viral disease is to keep all human fecal contamination out of food.

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Food Research Institute (Department of Food Microbiology and Toxicology), World Health Organization Collaborating Centre on Food Virology, and Departments of Bacteriology and of Animal Health and Biomedical Sciences, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, Wisconson 57306-1187

Publication date: March 1, 1994

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