Aquaculture for all

Rapid detection kit launched for oyster norovirus

Diagnostics Viruses Pathogens +10 more

A rapid real-time PCR kit for the detection of norovirus in oysters has been launched by Primerdesign - a PCR workflow specialist.

An oyster farmer.
Testing for norovirus in oysters is currently limited due to resource constraints

Primerdesign - a company focussed on the design, manufacture, validation and supply of real-time PCR kits and reagents - today launched a real-time PCR workflow for the detection of norovirus in oysters.

The quantitative PCR (qPCR) assay enables rapid and reliable detection of norovirus pathogens in oyster tissue, providing a user-friendly, cost-effective solution that can be used on site to identify the contamination points across the production line, helping to reduce public health risk and minimise shellfish farm closures.

There is a growing need for methods to detect and quantify viruses in bivalve shellfish to control and risk manage potential outbreaks and spread. Norovirus is a major cause of viral gastroenteritis and foodborne transmission is responsible for an estimated 16 percent of cases in the UK. The presence of sewage around oyster beds - a relevant issue considering the current state of sewage dumping in the UK - is a primary risk factor for bioaccumulation of the pathogen in the shellfish.

The Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science in England and the Marine Institute in the Republic of Ireland, the only ISO 15216-accredited laboratories for PCR quantification of norovirus in oysters in the British Isles, currently perform a limited number of tests from each grower due to resource constraints. This places food safety in jeopardy and farms at risk of closure if a norovirus outbreak is linked to their oysters.

The kit launched by Primerdesign aims to solve this issue, making regular norovirus screening accessible for shellfish farmers across the country. The kit includes all the reagents needed to conduct viral testing in line with the ISO 15216 guidelines, without any prior lab experience, and will deliver results within four hours.

“Many farmers are under pressure to test for norovirus in order to prevent an outbreak and risk consequent closure. However, the lack of approved commercially available tests currently available in the UK and limited accredited testing facilities often results in delays, presenting a significant challenge to the industry,” said Primerdesign product manager Dr Stephanie Anderson, in a press release.

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