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Enhancing knowledge of norovirus behaviour in the marine environment to enable better risk management in molluscan shellfisheries - WT1529

Description
The primary goal of this project is to study the fate and behaviour of noroviruses (NoV) following discharges from sewage treatment works (STW) into shellfish waters. This project will inform Defra regarding the key risks for norovirus contamination which is a key issue for policy development to protect shellfish waters under the Water Framework Directive. Any future norovirus standard for shellfish under food hygiene regulations could only be achieved with appropriate capital investment decisions and improvements in environmental quality of shellfish waters made by Defra, EA, water companies, FSA, Cefas and the shellfish industry.
1. To establish the characteristics of norovirus impacts on shellfisheries following release from sewerage outfalls. This objective will examine levels of human noroviruses (NoV) and E. coli in commercially harvested shellfish, seawater, freshwater, sediment and sewage in three shellfish production areas over two years. It will build on an initial Defra-funded scoping study that will develop a matrix of risk factors for NoV contamination and develop PCR methods for quantification of NoV in water and sediment.
2. To develop norovirus risk management options for shellfish production areas. The field data generated under objective 1 will be utilised to develop possible options for enhanced risk management for norovirus. This will particularly focus on: possible approaches to prohibition zones around sewerage pipes
(size, coverage); options for active management of shellfisheries around contamination events and their predictors (eg rainfall, CSO spills, river flows); sampling strategies for effective virus monitoring (frequency, spatial distribution). Recommendations will include analysis of the impact of applying the possible risk management measure(s) in a UK wide scenario.
3. To assess the level of public health protection at production area level afforded by current E. coli standards and whether that could be improved. Comparative data generated for E.coli within the study with be compared with norovirus to make recommendations on the implications for current monitoring and classification of production areas and whether that could be improved to better mitigate the norovirus risk. A particular focus will be the implications for class B areas which currently comprise 80% of classified areas
Objective
1. To establish the characteristics of norovirus impacts on shellfisheries following release from sewerage outfalls. This objective will examine levels of human noroviruses (NoV) and E. coli in commercially harvested shellfish, seawater, freshwater, sediment and sewage in three shellfish production areas over two years. It will build on an initial Defra-funded scoping study that will develop a matrix of risk factors for NoV contamination and develop PCR methods for quantification of NoV in water and sediment.
2. To develop norovirus risk management options for shellfish production areas. The field data generated under objective 1 will be utilised to develop possible options for enhanced risk management for norovirus. This will particularly focus on: possible approaches to prohibition zones around sewerage pipes
(size, coverage); options for active management of shellfisheries around contamination events and their predictors (eg rainfall, CSO spills, river flows); sampling strategies for effective virus monitoring (frequency, spatial distribution). Recommendations will include analysis of the impact of applying the possible risk management measure(s) in a UK wide scenario.
3. To assess the level of public health protection at production area level afforded by current E. coli standards and whether that could be improved. Comparative data generated for E.coli within the study with be compared with norovirus to make recommendations on the implications for current monitoring and classification of production areas and whether that could be improved to better mitigate the norovirus risk. A particular focus will be the implications for class B areas which currently comprise 80% of classified areas
Project Documents
• TRP - Technical Report : Risk factors for norovirus contamination of oyster production areas in England and Wales   (1015k)
Time-Scale and Cost
From: 2013

To: 2015

Cost: £133,820
Contractor / Funded Organisations
Food Standards Agency (FSA)
Keywords
Water              
Water Quality