Norovirus Highly Prevalent In and Transmitted By Raw Oysters Interview with:
Yongjie Wang PhD

College of Food Science and Technology
Shanghai Ocean University
Laboratory of Quality and Safety Risk Assessment for Aquatic Products on Storage & Preservation Ministry of Agriculture
Shanghai China

Medical Research: What is the background for this study?

Dr Wang: Norovirus (NoVs) are recognized as the most important food-borne viruses. They cause acute gastroenteritis in humans and infect people of all ages across the world. In our previous study, we found that approximate 90% of human norovirus sequences were discovered in the coastal regions in China, which likely result from the consumption of NoV-contaminated oysters. Oysters are well recognized as the main vectors of environmentally transmitted noroviruses, and disease outbreaks linked to oyster consumption have been commonly observed.

In order to gain a better understanding of how noroviruses are transmitted via oysters in the environment, we examined the genetic variants associated with oyster-related NoV outbreaks.

Medical Research: What are the main findings?

Dr Wang: A high degree of genetic diversity was observed for oyster-related noroviruses, and almost all the human norovirus genotypes were found in oyster-related norovirus sequences. These sequences were widely but unevenly distributed geographically, and most of them were detected in coastal regions. A higher frequency of GI strains was found in oyster-related than in human-related NoV sequences, while the yearly distributions of oyster-related sequences and human outbreak sequences were similar, indicating that oysters may act as a reservoir of noroviruses in the environment.

Medical Research: What should clinicians and patients take away from your report?

Dr Wang: To avoid getting infected by norovirus, do not contact and consume raw shellfish, especially oysters.

Medical Research: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Dr Wang:  First, determine how oysters enrich diverse norovirus genotypes.

Second, develop strategies to prevent norovirus contamination of oysters and norovirus transmission through oysters.


Molecular epidemiology of oyster-related human noroviruses: Global genetic diversity and temporal-geographical distribution from 1983 to 2014

 Yongxin Yu, Hui Cai, Linghao Hu, Rongwei Lei, Yingjie Pan,  Shuling Yan, and Yongjie Wang

Appl. Environ. Microbiol. AEM.01729-15; Accepted manuscript posted online 28 August 2015, doi:10.1128/AEM.01729-15

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Yongjie Wang PhD (2015). Norovirus Highly Prevalent In and Transmitted By Raw Oysters