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Commun Dis Rep CDR Rev. 1996 Sep 13;6(10):R131-6.

Outbreaks of foodborne viral gastroenteritis in England and Wales: 1992 to 1994.

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Bristol Public Health Laboratory.


Outbreaks of foodborne viral gastroenteritis in England and Wales from 1992 to 1994 have been analysed using data from the national surveillance scheme for general outbreaks of infectious intestinal disease. The cause was virologically confirmed for 389 (31%) of the 1280 outbreaks for which a minimum set of data were collected. Forty-seven of the 389 were attributed to foodborne transmission, 41 of which were caused by small round structured viruses (SRSV). An infected food handler was suspected to be a contributing factor in 14 and the consumption of oysters in eight of these 41 foodborne SRSV outbreaks. No seasonal pattern emerged. The highest incidences occurred in Wales, West Midlands, and South Western regional health authorities. The annual rate of outbreaks did not increase during the three year period (Chi square for linear trend 0.6; p = 0.4). Much remains to be discovered about the epidemiology of foodborne viruses, and outbreaks present an opportunity to enhance our knowledge. As molecular diagnostic techniques become routinely available, it is likely that the role of viruses in foodborne outbreaks will be increasingly recognised.

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