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Three-Year Study To Assess Human Enteric Viruses In Shellfish

F. Le Guyader, L. Haugarreau, L. Miossec, E. Dubois, M. Pommepuy

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ABSTRACT The main pathogenic enteric viruses able to persist in the environment, such as hepatitis A virus (HAV), Norwalk-like virus (NLV), enterovirus (EV), rotavirus (RV), and astrovirus (AV), were detected by reverse transcription-PCR and hybridization in shellfish during a 3-year study. Oyster samples ( n = 108), occasionally containing bacteria, were less frequently contaminated, showing positivity for AV (17%), NLV (23%), EV (19%), and RV (27%), whereas mussel samples, collected in areas routinely impacted by human sewage, were more highly contaminated: AV (50%), HAV (13%), NLV (35%), EV (45%), and RV (52%). Sequences obtained from HAV and NLV amplicons showed a great variety of strains, especially for NLV (strains close to Mexico, Snow Mountain Agent, or Norwalk virus). Viral contamination was mainly observed during winter months, although there were some seasonal differences among the viruses. This first study of virus detection over a fairly long period of time suggests that routine analysis of shellfish by a molecular technique is feasible.