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Epidemiol Infect. 1998 Oct;121(2):401-7.

Feline calicivirus as a model system for heat inactivation studies of small round structured viruses in shellfish.

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  • 1Enteric and Respiratory Virus Laboratory, Central Public Health Laboratory, London.


Commercial heat treatment procedures for molluscan shellfish are based on data obtained for the inactivation of hepatitis A virus (HAV) in cockles. However, the most frequently reported illness associated with consumption of bivalve molluscs is gastroenteritis caused by small round structured viruses (SRSVs) of the Norwalk group. Conditions for inactivation of SRSVs are unknown. In this study a feline calicivirus was used as a model for the SRSV group and conditions for its heat inactivation determined. Experiments showed that feline calicivirus is more readily inactivated in shellfish than HAV, and confirmed that current heating recommendations to the UK shellfish industry are adequate. A reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) assay for the detection of calicivirus in shellfish was developed and results compared with isolation in cell culture. The RT-PCR detected virus in some samples that failed to yield virus on culture. This has important implications if molecular virology techniques are to be used in the design and monitoring of shellfish treatment procedures and for routine testing of food samples.

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