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Detection of Noroviruses in Foods: A Study on Virus Extraction Procedures in Foods Implicated in Outbreaks of Human Gastroenteritis

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Disease outbreaks in which foods are epidemiologically implicated as the common source are frequently reported. Noroviruses and enteric hepatitis A viruses are among the most prevalent causative agents of foodborne diseases. However, the detection of these viruses in foods other than shellfish is often time-consuming and unsuccessful. In this study, three virus concentration methods were compared: polyethylene glycol (PEG) plus NaCl, ultracentrifugation, and ultrafiltration. Two RNA extraction methods, TRIzol and RNeasy Mini Kit (Qiagen), were compared for detection of viruses in whipped cream and lettuce (as representatives of the dairy and vegetable-fruit food groups, respectively). A seeding experiment with canine calicivirus was conducted to determine the efficiency of each virus extraction procedure. The PEG-NaCl-TRIzol method was most efficient for the detection of viruses in whipped cream and the ultracentrifugation–RNeasy–Mini Kit procedure was best for detection on lettuce. Based on the seeding experiments, food items implicated in norovirus-associated gastroenteritis outbreaks were subjected to the optimal procedure for a specific composition and matrix. No noroviruses were detected in the implicated food items, possibly because the concentration of virus on the food item was too low or because of the presence of inhibitory factors. For each food group, a specific procedure is optimal. Inhibitory factors should be controlled in these procedures because they influence virus detection in food.

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Microbiological Laboratory for Health Protection, Centre for Infectious Disease Control, National Institute of Public Health and the Environment, P.O. Box 1/ Antonie van Leeuwenhoeklaan 9, 3720 BA Bilthoven, The Netherlands 2: Centre for Infectious Disease Epidemiology, National Institute of Public Health and the Environment, Bilthoven, The Netherlands

Publication date: 2006-08-01

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