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Detection Of Enteric Viruses In Shellfish From The Norwegian Coast

M. Myrmel, E. M. M. Berg, E. Rimstad, B. Grinde

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ABSTRACT Common blue mussels ( Mytilus edulis ), horse mussels ( Modiolus modiolus ), and flat oysters ( Ostrea edulis ) obtained from various harvesting and commercial production sites along the Norwegian coast were screened for the presence of norovirus by a real-time reverse transcription (RT)-nested PCR assay and for possible indicators of fecal contamination, i.e., for F-specific RNA bacteriophages (F-RNA phages) by plaque assay and for human adenoviruses and human circoviruses by nested PCR assay. The aims were to obtain relevant information for assessing the risk of transmission of enteric viruses by shellfish and to investigate the potential of various indicator viruses in routine screening. Noroviruses were detected in 6.8% of the samples, and the indicators were detected in 23.8% (F-RNA phages), 18.6% (adenoviruses), and 8.0% (circoviruses) of the samples. A seasonal variation was observed, with the exception of circoviruses, with more positive samples in the winter. A positive correlation was found between F-RNA phages and noroviruses. However, F-RNA phages were present in only 43% of the norovirus-positive samples. The results show that mussels from the Norwegian coast can constitute a risk of infection with enteric viruses and that routine testing of samples may be justified. Advantages and disadvantages of various options for screening are discussed.