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Food Environ Virol. 2013 May 17. [Epub ahead of print]

Survival of Respiratory Viruses on Fresh Produce.

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Departamento de Investigación y Posgrado en Alimentos, Universidad de Sonora, Blvd. Luis Encinas y Calle Rosales S/N. Colonia Centro, 83000, Hermosillo, SON, Mexico.


In addition to enteric viruses of fecal origin, emerging zoonotic viruses such as respiratory coronaviruses and influenza viruses may potentially be transmitted via contaminated foods. The goal of this study was to determine the recovery efficiencies and the survival of two respiratory viruses, namely, adenovirus 2 (Ad2) and coronavirus 229E (CoV229E), on fresh produce in comparison to the enteric poliovirus 1 (PV1). Adenovirus was recovered with efficiencies of 56.5, 31.8, and 34.8 % from lettuce, strawberries, and raspberries, respectively. Coronavirus was recovered from lettuce with an efficiency of 19.6 % yet could not be recovered from strawberries. Poliovirus was recovered with efficiencies of 76.7 % from lettuce, but only 0.06 % from strawberries. For comparison purposes, the survival of Ad2, CoV229E, and PV1 was determined for periods up to 10 days on produce. The enteric PV1 survived better than both respiratory viruses on lettuce and strawberries, with only ≤1.03 log10 reductions after 10 days of storage at 4 °C compared to CoV229E not being recovered after 4 days on lettuce and reductions of 1.97 log10 and 2.38 log10 of Ad2 on lettuce and strawberries, respectively, after 10 days. Nevertheless, these respiratory viruses were able to survive for at least several days on produce. There is therefore the potential for transfer to the hands and subsequently to the mucosa via rubbing the eyes or nose. In addition, some respiratory coronaviruses (e.g., severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus) and adenoviruses are also capable of replication in the gut and there is thus some potential for acquisition through the consumption of contaminated produce.

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