Evaluation of a New Environmental Sampling Protocol for Detection of Human Norovirus on Inanimate Surfaces.

Applied and environmental microbiology

PubMedID: 26116675

Park GW, Lee D, Treffiletti A, Hrsak M, Shugart J, Vinjé J. Evaluation of a New Environmental Sampling Protocol for Detection of Human Norovirus on Inanimate Surfaces. Appl Environ Microbiol. 2015;.
Inanimate surfaces are regarded as key vehicles for the spread of human norovirus during outbreaks. ISO method 15216 involves the use of cotton swabs for environmental sampling from food surfaces and fomites for the detection of norovirus genogroup I (GI) and GII. We evaluated the effects of the virus drying time (1, 8, 24, or 48 h), swab material (cotton, polyester, rayon, macrofoam, or an antistatic wipe), surface (stainless steel or a toilet seat), and area of the swabbed surface (25. 8 cm(2) to 645. 0 cm(2)) on the recovery of human norovirus. Macrofoam swabs produced the highest rate of recovery of norovirus from surfaces as large as 645 cm(2). The rates of recovery ranged from 2. 2 to 36. 0% for virus seeded on stainless-steel coupons (645. 0 cm(2)) to 1. 2 to 33. 6% for toilet seat surfaces (700 cm(2)), with detection limits of 3. 5 log10 and 4. 0 log10 RNA copies. We used macrofoam swabs to collect environmental samples from several case cabins and common areas of a cruise ship where passengers had reported viral gastroenteritis symptoms. Seventeen (18. 5%) of 92 samples tested positive for norovirus GII, and 4 samples could be sequenced and had identical GII. 1 sequences. The viral loads of the swab samples from the cabins of the sick passengers ranged from 80 to 31,217 RNA copies, compared with 16 to 113 RNA copies for swab samples from public spaces. In conclusion, our swab protocol for norovirus may be a useful tool for outbreak investigations when no clinical samples are available to confirm the etiology.