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Methods Used to Analyze a Norovirus Outbreak

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Abstract:Project Goals and Objectives:
To isolate and identify the viral agents in well water samples associated with two outbreaks of acute gastroenteritis reported to the Wyoming Department of Health in February 2001 and October 2001. To isolate and identify the viral agents in patient stool samples and to determine the link between water consumption and illness.

Approach:
The project had a three way approach:
An epidemiological investigation was performed to identify any common routes of exposure among those afflicted with gastroenteritis.
An environmental survey was done of the premises involved in each outbreak to determine possible sources of contamination.
Laboratory analysis was performed on well water samples for coliform and viral detection using RT-PCR and DNA sequencing. Stool samples were also analyzed for the presence of noroviruses.

Preliminary Findings:
Epidemiological studies revealed a close association between water consumption and illness. Environmental surveys in both outbreaks determined that the water supply was vulnerable to fecal contamination. Well water samples in both cases were positive for coliforms, and RT-PCR and DNA sequencing revealed noroviruses as the causative agents of acute gastroenteritis.

Significance of Findings:
This investigation demonstrates that EPA's viral concentration and molecular methods in conjunction with epidemiological and environmental analysis are very useful in outbreak studies.

Next Steps:
The methods used in this study can be performed in most laboratories with trained personnel and appropriate equipment, which would allow for routine monitoring of enteric viruses in drinking water, thus preventing any future outbreaks from occurring.
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Citation:Cashdollar, J. L., S. Parshionikar, C. Newport, S. Williantrue, D. R. Dahling, and G. S. Fout. Methods Used to Analyze a Norovirus Outbreak. Presented at USEPA's Research on Micoorganisms in Drinking Water, Cincinnati, OH, August 5-7, 2003.
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Contact: Mary P. O'Bryant - (919)-541-4871 or obriant.mary@epa.gov
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Division: Microbiological & Chemical Exposure Assessment Division
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Branch: Biohazard Assessment Research Branch
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Product Type: Abstrct/Oral
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Presented: 08/05/2003
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Related Entries:
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Bullet Item Measure Occurrence and Exposure to Waterborne Human Viruses
spacer Relationship Reason:   A Project of the Product
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Last Updated on Monday, October 22, 2007
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