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Distribution Of Human Virus Contamination In Shellfish From Different Growing Areas In Greece, Spain, Sweden, And The United Kingdom

M. Formiga-Cruz, G. Tofiño-Quesada, S. Bofill-Mas, D. N. Lees, K. Henshilwood, A. K. Allard, A.-C. Conden-Hansson, B. E. Hernroth, A. Vantarakis, A. Tsibouxi, M. Papapetropoulou, M. D. Furones, R. Girones

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ABSTRACT Viral pollution in shellfish has been analyzed simultaneously across a wide range of geographical regions, with emphasis on the concomitant variations in physicochemical characteristics and social features. The methods for sample treatment and for the detection of human enteric viruses were optimized by the participating laboratories. The second part of this study involves the selection of a protocol for virus detection, which was validated by analyzing the distribution and concentration of human viral pathogens under diverse conditions during an 18-month period in four European countries. Shellfish-growing areas from diverse countries in the north and south of Europe were defined and studied, and the microbiological quality of the shellfish was analyzed. Human adenovirus, Norwalk-like virus, and enterovirus were identified as contaminants of shellfish in all the participating countries. Hepatitis A virus was also isolated in all areas except Sweden. The seasonal distribution of viral contamination was also described. Norwalk-like virus appeared to be the only group of viruses that demonstrated seasonal variation, with lower concentrations occurring during warm months. The depuration treatments currently applied were shown to be adequate for reducing Escherichia coli levels but ineffective for the elimination of viral particles. The human adenoviruses detected by PCR correlate with the presence of other human viruses and could be useful as a molecular index of viral contamination in shellfish.