Human norovirus (NoV) contaminated hands are important routes for transmission. Quantitative data on transfer during contact with surfaces and food are scarce but necessary for a quantitative risk assessment. Therefore, transfer of MNV1 and human NoVs GI.4 and GII.4 was studied by artificially contaminating human finger pads, followed by pressing on stainless steel and Trespa® surfaces and also on whole tomatoes and cucumber slices. In addition, clean finger pads were pressed on artificially contaminated stainless steel and Trespa® surfaces. The transfers were performed at a pressure of 0.8-1.9kg/cm2 for approximately 2s up to 7 sequential transfers either to carriers or to food products. MNV1 infectivity transfer from finger pads to stainless steel ranged from 13±16% on the first to 0.003±0.009% on the sixth transfer on immediate transfer. After 10min of drying, transfer was reduced to 0.1±0.2% on the first transfer to 0.013±0.023% on the fifth transfer. MNV1 infectivity transfer from stainless steel and Trespa® to finger pads after 40min of drying was 2.0±2.0% and 4.0±5.0% respectively. MNV1 infectivity was transferred 7±8% to cucumber slices and 0.3±0.5% to tomatoes after 10min of drying, where the higher transfer to cucumber was probably due to the higher moisture content of the cucumber slices. Similar results were found for NoVs GI.4 and GII.4 transfers measured in PCR units. The results indicate that transfer of the virus is possible even after the virus is dried on the surface of hands or carriers. Furthermore, the role of fingers in transmission of NoVs was quantified and these data can be useful in risk assessment models and to establish target levels for efficacy of transmission intervention methods.

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International Journal of Food Microbiology
Department of Virology

Tuladhar, E., Hazeleger, W., Koopmans, M., D.V.M., Zwietering, M., Duizer, E., & Beumer, R. (2013). Transfer of noroviruses between fingers and fomites and food products. International Journal of Food Microbiology, 167(3), 346–352. doi:10.1016/j.ijfoodmicro.2013.09.018