Oysters Harbor Norovirus, Circulate Fresh Strands Among Human Population

News Brief by Michael Seleman

          Seafood lovers beware. North Carolina University’s Department of Applied and Environmental Microbiology has recently made public research suggesting that oysters are significant agents in the transmission of norovirus, or “stomach flu,” among humans. In studies aided by their very own “vomiting machine,” researchers have concluded that infectious droplets of vomit are just as effective in transmitting diseases as droplets of mucus. Exposure to these droplets thus leads to infection, namely infection of coastal oyster populations in contact with human sewage deposits. Comparison of the strands of norovirus circulating in human and oyster populations showed considerable similarity, and, as a result, Dr. Yongjie Wang of Shanghai Ocean University deemed these coastal oyster populations, “an important reservoir for human noroviruses.” According to Dr. Wang, the oysters that harbor these viruses allow them to mutate and give rise to new outbreaks upon oyster consumption. That is, if they’re eaten raw of course. 

 

Reference: Mcneil, Donald G. "Oysters May Serve as Link in Transmission of Norovirus." The New York Times. The New York Times, 07 Sept. 2015. Web. 12 Oct. 2015.