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J Infect Dis. 2015 Feb 15;211(4):563-70. doi: 10.1093/infdis/jiu479. Epub 2014 Aug 25.

Sources of Calicivirus contamination in foodborne outbreaks in Denmark, 2005-2011--the role of the asymptomatic food handler.

Author information

1
Microbiological Diagnostics and Virology, Statens Serum Institut, Copenhagen Research Unit for Clinical Microbiology, University of Southern Denmark, Odense.
2
Danish Veterinary and Food Administration, Glostrup.
3
Microbiological Diagnostics and Virology, Statens Serum Institut, Copenhagen.
4
National Food Institute, Technical University of Denmark, Søborg, Denmark.
5
Microbiological Diagnostics and Virology, Statens Serum Institut, Copenhagen Medical Microbiology, Lund University, Malmö, Sweden.
6
Infectious Diseases Epidemiology, Statens Serum Institut, Copenhagen, Denmark.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Norovirus (NoV) is the predominant cause of foodborne disease outbreaks. Virus contamination may occur during all steps of food processing, from production to preparation and serving. The relative importance of these different routes of contamination is unknown.

METHODS:

The purpose of this study was to estimate the proportions of outbreaks caused by asymptomatic and symptomatic food handlers (FHs). Reports of foodborne NoV and sapovirus outbreaks (n=191) that occurred over a 7-year period were extracted, reviewed, and categorized according to the available evidence for source of contamination.

RESULTS:

In 64 (34%) of the outbreaks, contamination from FHs took place during preparation or serving of food. In the majority of these outbreaks (n=41; 64%), the FHs were asymptomatic during food handling. Some had been in contact with ill household members before handling the food and remained asymptomatic; others developed symptoms shortly after or were post-symptomatic. In 51 (27%) of the outbreaks, contamination occurred during production of the food, and in 55 (29%) of the outbreaks, contamination had supposedly occurred after serving a guest at a self-serve buffet.

CONCLUSIONS:

Guidelines regarding exclusion of FHs where household members suffer from gastroenteritis could limit the number of outbreaks.

KEYWORDS:

Caliciviridae; food; food handlers; foodborne outbreaks; foodborne transmission; norovirus; sapovirus; viral gastroenteritis

PMID:
25156563
DOI:
10.1093/infdis/jiu479
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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