Norovirus and Hepatitis A Virus
Blackberries, mixed berries, raspberries have all been implicated in the past years in an information or an alert from the European authorities, following a contamination of food-borne viruses.
Serbia is not the only country of origin though (25/71 alerts for Viruses in Fruits and Vegetables), and many others have been implicated with foodborne virus contamination : Belgium, China, Poland, Chile, Morocco, Bulgaria ... according to the RASFF.
Chinese raspberries, for example, were implicated several times (4) since 2006, due to viral contamination as recently posted. This led the European community to request controls at borders for imported chinese strawberries.
Chile, also a strong raspberry Producer in the Southern Hemisphere, has been implicated in several recalls, and is now working towards better controls for a safer production of the "Chilean Frambuesas", in order to bring back confidence to the European importers.
Raspberries, a booming business for SerbiaGermany is leading the importing countries statistics in Europe with a little more than 15,000 tonnes. France had a strong increase (+16%), with 10,981 tonnes, while Austria (+78%) came 3rd with 1,851 tonnes and the UK (+34%)th with 1,796 tonnes [Source]
Other fruits and Foodborne virus contaminationNot only are raspberries often heading the news, for virus contamination, but recent events in the US remind us that Strawberries, produced a similar way than the raspberries, can also be contaminated by foodborne viruses.
Hepatitis A Virus is the human pathogen detected in the egyptian strawberries imported into the US and used to prepare smoothies. This multistate outbreak, linked to frozen berries, has now contaminated dozens of people, mostly in Virginia.
Pomegranate arils from Turkey were also implicated in a large multistate outbreak in the US back in 2013. Hepatitis A Virus was also detected in the product, sold frozen in retail shops. 165 people were contaminated.
Water can also be a source for rapidly spreading the viruses, as recently seen in Turkey, when 32000 people were hospitalized following the consumption of water-borne virus contaminated tap water, or in Spain when more than 4000 persons got ill after drinking bottled water.
What are food-borne viruses?
- HAV was first identified in 1973, and is a non-enveloped virus, classified within the genus hepatovirus of the picornavirus family. Hepatitis A is a liver infection caused by the Hepatitis A virus (HAV). Hepatitis A is highly contagious. HAV is transmitted by the fecal-oral route, either through person-to-person contact orconsumption of contaminated food or water. For more information on Hepatitis A check the CDC website and WHO Website.
- Noroviruses are highly contagious and 10-100 viral particles may be sufficient to infect an individual. They are transmitted primarily through the faecal-oral route, either by consumption of contaminated food or water, or by spreading directly from person to person. Vomiting creates aerosols with high content of virus particles, which enter the oral mucosa or contaminate surfaces. The virus survives a long time on different surfaces and thus, environment may serve as a source of new infections. For more information on norovirus check the ECDC website
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