jueves, 4 de agosto de 2011

USDA Funds Norovirus Study

Research will be conducted by 30 collaborators from across academia, industry and government

North Carolina State University (NCSU) has received a $25 million federal grant to study how human Norovirus are transmitted and survive in food, with a goal of finding better ways to control them and reduce the number of foodborne illnesses they cause.

 The grant was announced Wednesday by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack at the annual conference of the International Association for Food Protection in Milwaukee.

Norovirus is the leading cause of foodborne illness outbreaks in the United States, responsible for more than 21 million illnesses annually. More than half of all foodborne disease outbreaks are due to Norovirus.

Highly contagious, Norovirus are found in the stools or vomit of infected people, and can be spread through contact with people who are infected -- shaking hands or touching something they've touched, for instance. Outbreaks occur more often in enclosed settings or close living quarters, such as nursing homes, child-care centers, restaurants, catered events and on cruise ships.

Food and water can become contaminated with Norovirus. The primary foods at risk are molluscan shellfish, fresh produce and foods that are extensively handled just prior to consumption.

There is, as of yet, no vaccine to prevent norovirus infection and there is no specific drug to treat norovirus illness. Infections usually do not cause long-term health problems, but they can cause short-term misery.

In addition to developing rapid methods to detect Norovirus in foods and water and several other objectives, the team will develop online training for food safety and health professionals and food service workers, and provide information to fresh produce and shellfish producers and processors on the risks, management and control of foodborne viruses.

The project grant was awarded through USDA's Agriculture and Food Research Initiative and will be administered through USDA's National Institute of Food and Agriculture.
Source: USDA 

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