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Investigation into the prevalence, distribution and levels of norovirus in oyster harvesting areas in the UK
Project Code: FS235003;
- 1. Lowther JA, Gustar NE, Powell AL, Hartnell RE, Lees DN (2012) Two-year systematic study to assess norovirus contamination in oysters from commercial harvesting areas in the United Kingdom, Appl Environ Microbiol. 2012 Aug;78(16):5812-7. doi: 10.1128/AEM.01046-12.
- Lowther, J.A., Gustar, N.E., Hartnell, R.E. & Lees, D.N. (2012) Comparison of norovirus RNA levels in outbreak-related oysters with background environmental levels. Journal of Food Protection, 75(2), 389-393, doi: org/10.4315/0362-028X.JFP-11-360
Centre for Environment, Fisheries & Agriculture Science (CEFAS) Weymouth
Contamination of bivalve shellfish with norovirus (causing gastroenteritis) is recognised as a major human health risk associated with the consumption of contaminated shellfish. Risk assessment and management relies on E. coli levels as an indicator of faecal (sewage) contamination in shellfish however this is considered to be inadequate in determining the risk from human enteric viruses such as norovirus. There is currently a lack of quantitative data on the prevalence, distribution and levels of norovirus in oysters and oyster production/harvesting areas within the UK.
The systematic surveillance data generated will be used to develop the Agency’s policy on virus contamination of bivalve shellfish and contribute to an EFSA review of data on norovirus in oysters expected to inform further discussions in Europe.
The data generated from this study provides a systematic analysis of norovirus contamination in classified oyster production areas in the UK and will help to inform risk management strategies and support development of a future EU standard for norovirus in live bivalve molluscs. The data has also been submitted to EFSA to inform an opinion on ‘norovirus in oysters: methods, limits and control options’ due to be published on 31st December 2011. This UK data is considered by European experts to be among the best available and is of particular value to EFSA.
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