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Biomed Environ Sci. 2018 Oct;31(10):713-720. doi: 10.3967/bes2018.096.

Utility of Droplet Digital PCR Assay for Quantitative Detection of Norovirus in Shellfish, from Production to Consumption in Guangxi, China.

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Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region Center for Disease Prevention and Control, Nanning 530028, Guangxi, China.



Shellfish are recognized as important vehicles of norovirus-associated gastroenteritis. The present study aimed to monitor norovirus contamination in oysters along the farm-to-fork continuum in Guangxi, a major oyster production area in Southwestern China.


Oyster samples were collected monthly from farms, markets, and restaurants, from January to December 2016. Norovirus was detected and quantified by one-step reverse transcription-droplet digital polymerase chain reaction (RT-ddPCR).


A total of 480 oyster samples were collected and tested for norovirus genogroups I and II. Norovirus was detected in 20.7% of samples, with genogroup II predominating. No significant difference was observed in norovirus prevalence among different sampling sites. The norovirus levels varied widely, with a geometric mean of 19,300 copies/g in digestive glands. Both norovirus prevalence and viral loads showed obvious seasonality, with a strong winter bias.


This study provides a systematic analysis of norovirus contamination 'from the farm to the fork' in Guangxi. RT-ddPCR can be a useful tool for detection and quantification of low amounts of norovirus in the presence of inhibitors found particularly in foodstuffs. This approach will contribute to the development of strategies for controlling and reducing the risk of human illness resulting from shellfish consumption.


Droplet Digital PCR; Norovirus; Quantitative detection; Shellfish

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