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Viruses of foodborne origin: a review

Authors Todd EC, Greig JD

Received 17 December 2014

Accepted for publication 3 February 2015

Published 29 April 2015 Volume 2015:7 Pages 25—45

DOI https://doi.org/10.2147/VAAT.S50108

Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewer comments 3

Editor who approved publication: Professor Jonathan Dinman

Ewen CD Todd,1,2 Judy D Greig3

1Ewen Todd Consulting LLC, Okemos, MI, USA; 2Department of Nutrition and Food Science, Faculty of Agricultural and Food Sciences, American University of Beirut, Beirut, Lebanon; 3Division of Public Health Risk Sciences, Laboratory for Foodborne Zoonoses, Public Health Agency of Canada, Guelph, ON, Canada

Abstract: Enteric viruses are major contributors to foodborne disease, and include adenovirus, astrovirus, rotavirus, sapovirus, hepatitis A and E viruses, and norovirus. From a foodborne transmission perspective, norovirus is the most important; however, hepatitis A is associated with more serious illness. Foodborne viruses are transmitted through contaminated food, but also in combination with person-to-person contact or through environmental contamination. These viruses survive well in the environment, are excreted in abundance in feces, and have a low infectious dose, all of which facilitate spread within a community. Many colonized individuals experience mild gastroenteritis lasting a few days or are asymptomatic, although viral excretion may continue over days or weeks. Severe illness tends to be restricted to the very young and elderly, especially in closed communities such as schools and homes for the aged. In the USA, norovirus is considered to be responsible for two thirds of all foodborne illnesses occurring in a wide range of institutional settings, including schools, colleges, child care centers, cruise ships, prisons, and soldiers on campaign. Norovirus outbreaks also occur at one-time events, such as banquets, wedding receptions, birthday parties, and potluck meals, and are most often introduced by infected food workers producing, preparing, or serving food, or through self-service buffets. Often the infections are introduced from the community into institutions where they can infect the majority of residents unless quickly controlled. In countries where economic assessments have been completed, there is a high cost for prevention, control, and treatment of infections. Control measures are limited, but include proper clean-up and disinfection after vomiting or diarrhea, and prevention of food contact by infected individuals. As diagnostics improve, more foodborne illnesses relating to enteric viruses are expected to be identified, especially in developing countries where there are little data today.

Keywords: foodborne, enteric viruses, shellfish, food workers, prevention, control, ready-to-eat food

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