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Appl Environ Microbiol. 2002 Apr;68(4):1925-31.

Norwalk-like virus sequences in mineral waters: one-year monitoring of three brands.

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Cantonal Food Laboratory of Solothurn, CH-4500 Solothurn, Switzerland.


In a recent study, RNA with nucleotide sequeces specific for "Norwalk-like viruses" (NLV) was detected in 11 different brands of European mineral waters. To clarify this finding, a 1-year monitoring study was conducted. Samples of three European brands of mineral water without gas were monitored weekly by reverse transcriptase PCR using generic and genogroup-specific oligonucleotides. Additional analyses were performed to investigate a possible correlation between NLV sequence contamination and mineral water lot numbers, the long-term stability (persistence) of NLV sequences in mineral water, and the level of contamination. NLV sequences were detected in 53 of 159 samples analyzed (33%) and belonged entirely to genogroup II. Although all NLV strains identified were closely related, three mineral water brand-specific clusters could be identified for both primer systems by sequencing. Analyses of second samples from lots previously shown to be positive for NLV sequences gave corresponding results in 45 of 53 cases (85%) (within a six-pack). NLV persistence was tested by analyzing 10 positive samples after 6 and 12 months of storage in darkness at room temperature. After 6 months, all samples remained positive; after 12 months, 9 of 10 samples were still positive for NLV sequences. No NLV sequences could be detected by analysis of 0.1-liter aliquots of 53 samples shown to be positive by testing of 1-liter volumes. Based on this fact and a test sensitivity of approximately 10 viral units, levels of contamination in positive mineral water samples were estimated to be in the range of 10 to 100 genomic equivalents per liter.

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