Viral infections transmitted by food of animal origin: the present situation in the European Union

  • A. Stolle
  • B. Sperner
Conference paper


The goal of this presentation was to clarify which foods are involved in viral diseases, which viruses are transmitted via food and how to evaluate the risk of a foodborne viral infection. Food items frequently identified as cause of viral disease outbreaks were shellfish harvested in sewage-contaminated water. Another common source of foodborne viral illness was cold food contaminated by infected food handlers. In the European Union the viruses most frequently associated with foodborne illness were hepatitis A virus and the SRSV’s. A few isolated cases of foodborne hepatitis E were reported in Mediterranean countries. Compared to other foodborne diseases, those caused by viruses are less severe and seldom fatal. This might be a reason why the problem of viral contamination of food has been neglected. Yet, because many foodborne viral diseases are not recognized either as foodborne or as caused by viruses, the actual number of cases must be assumed to be significantly higher than the reported number. Consequently, food associated diseases of viral origin should be granted more attention.


Food Handler Viral Gastroenteritis Foodborne Disease Foodborne Illness Viral Contamination 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 1.
    Appleton H, Buckley M, Thorn BT, Cotton JL, Henderson S (1977) Virus-like particles in winter vomiting disease. Lancet i: 409–411CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    Appleton H, Pereira MS (1977) A possible virus aetiology in outbreaks of food-poisoning from cockles. Lancet i: 780–781CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    Appleton H (1987) Small round viruses: classification and role in food-borne infections. Ciba Found Symp 128: 108–125PubMedGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    Appleton H (1990) Foodborne viruses. Lancet ii: 1362–1364CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    Becker B, Krämer J (1995) Übertragung humanpathogener Viren durch Lebensmittel. In: 36. Arbeitstagung des Arbeitsgebietes “Lebensmittelhygiene”/DVG, Garmisch-Partenkirchen 1995. Offset Köhler, Gießen, pp 203–209Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Blackwell JH, Cliver DO, Callis JJ, Heidelbaugh ND, Larkin EP, McKercher PD, Thayer DW (1985) Foodborne viruses: their importance and need for research. J Food Prot 48: 717–723Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    Caredda F, Antinori S, Re T, Pastecchia C, Zavaglia C, Moroni M (1985) Clinical features of sporadic non-A, non-b hepatitis possibly associated with faecal-oral spread. Lancet ii: 48Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    Caul EO, Ashley C, Pether JVS (1979) “Norwalk”-like particles in epidemic gastroenteritis in the U.K. Lancet ii: 1292CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. 9.
    Chalmers JWT, McMillan JH (1995) An outbreak of viral gastroenteritis associated with adequately prepared oysters. Epidemiol Infect 115: 163–167PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
    Cliver DO (1981) Gefahren einer Virusinfektion durch Fleisch. Fleischwirtsch 61: 432–434Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    Cliver DO (1990) Viruses. In: Cliver DO (ed) Foodborne diseases. Academic Press, San Diego, pp 275–292Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    Cooke EM (1990) Epidemiology of foodborne illness: UK. Lancet ii: 790–793CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. 13.
    Fang G, Araujo V, Guerrant RL (1991) Enteric infections associated with exposure to animals or animal products. Infect Dis Clin North Am 5: 681–701PubMedGoogle Scholar
  14. 14.
    Gill ON, Cubitt WD, McSwiggan DA, Watney BM, Bartlett CLR (1983) Epidemic of gastroenteritis caused by oysters contaminated with small round structured viruses. Br Med J 287: 1532–1534CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. 15.
    Gray SF, Evans MR (1993) Dose-response in an outbreak of non-bacterial food poisoning traced to a mixed seafood cocktail. Epidemiol Infect 110: 583–590PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. 16.
    Greiser-Wilke I, Fries R (1994) Methoden zum Nachweis viraler Kontaminationen in Lebensmitteln tierischer Herkunft. Dtsch Tierarztl Wochenschr 101: 249–300Google Scholar
  17. 17.
    Hedberg CW, Osterholm MT (1993) Outbreaks of food-borne and waterborne viral gastroenteritis. Clin Microbiol Rev 6: 199–210PubMedGoogle Scholar
  18. 18.
    Heller D, Gill ON, Raynham E, Kirkland T, Zadick PM, Stanwell-Smith R (1985) An outbreak of gastrointestinal illness associated with consumption of raw depurated oysters. Br Med J 292: 1726–1727CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. 19.
    Iversen AM, Gill M, Bartlett CLR, Cubitt WD, McSwiggan DA (1987) Two outbreaks of foodborne gastroenteritis caused by a small round structured virus: evidence of prolonged infectivity in a food handler. Lancet ii: 556–558CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. 20.
    Kaplan JE, Gary GW, Baron RC, Singh N, Schonberger LB, Feldman R, Greenberg HB (1982) Epidemiology of Norwalk gastroenteritis and the role of Norwalk virus in outbreaks of acute nonbacterial gastroenteritis. Ann Int Med 96: 756–761PubMedGoogle Scholar
  21. 21.
    Larkin EP (1981) Food contaminants-viruses. J Food Prot 44: 320–325Google Scholar
  22. 22.
    Lo SV, Connolly AM, Palmer SR, Wright D, Thomas PD, Joyson D (1994) The role of the pre-symptomatic food handler in a common source of foodborne SRSV gastroenteritis in a group of hospitals. Epidemiol Infect 113: 513–521PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. 23.
    Mayr A (1979) Tatsachen und Spekulationen über Viren in Lebensmitteln. Zentralbl Bakteriol B168: 109–133Google Scholar
  24. 24.
    Mele A, Rastelli MG, Gill ON, Di Bisceglie D, Rosmini F, Pardelli G, Valtriani C, Patriarchi P (1989) Recurrent epidemic hepatitis A associated with consumption of raw shellfish, probably controlled through public health measures. Am J Epidemiol 130: 540–546PubMedGoogle Scholar
  25. 25.
    Papaevangelou G (1992) Epidemiology of hepatitis A in Mediterranean countries. Vaccine 10: S63–S66PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. 26.
    Paver WK, Caul EO, Ashley CR, Clarke SKR (1973) A small virus in human faeces. Lancet i: 237–240CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. 27.
    Pether JVS, Caul EO (1983) An outbreak of food-borne gastroenteritis in two hospitals associated with a Norwalk-like virus. J Hyg Camb 91: 343–350PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. 28.
    Reid JA, Caul EO, White DG, Palmer SR (1988) Role of infected food handler in hotel outbreak of Norwalk-like viral gastroenteritis: implications for control. Lancet ii: 321–323CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. 29.
    Riordan T, Craske J, Roberts JL, Curry A (1984) Food borne infection by a Norwalk like virus (small round structured virus). J Clin Pathol 37: 817–820PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. 30.
    Schunck B, Rziha HJ (1994) Der Nachweis von Viren in Lebensmitteln tierischer Herkunft mit der Polymerase-Kettenreaktion: eine Übersicht. Tierärztl Prax 22: 502–505PubMedGoogle Scholar
  31. 31.
    Stevenson P, McCann R, Duthie R, Glew E, Ganguli L (1994) A hospital outbreak due to Norwalk virus. J Hosp Infect 26: 261–272PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. 32.
    Tassopoulos NC, Alikiotis M, Limotirakis F, Nicolakakis P, Mela H, Paralogou-Ioannides M (1988) Acute sporadic non-A, non-B hepatitis in Greece. J Med Virol 26: 71–77PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. 33.
    Torné J, Miralles R, Tomás S, Saballs P (1988) Typhoid fever and acute non-A non-B hepatitis after shellfish consumption. Eur J Clin Microbiol Infect Dis 7: 581–582PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. 34.
    Viral Gastroenteritis Sub-Cpmmitte and the PHLS Virology Committee (1995) Outbreaks of gastroenteritis associated with SRSV’s PHLS Microbiol Digest 10: 2–8Google Scholar
  35. 35.
    Wittman RJ, Flick GJ (1995) Microbial contamination of shellfish: prevalence, risk to human health, and control strategies. Annu Rev Public Health 16: 123–140PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Wien 1997

Authors and Affiliations

  • A. Stolle
    • 1
  • B. Sperner
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute for Hygiene and Technology of Food of Animal Origin, Veterinary FacultyLudwig-Maximilians-University MunichMunichFederal Republic of Germany

Personalised recommendations