Survey of Canadian retail pork chops and pork livers for detection of hepatitis E virus, norovirus, and rotavirus using real time RT-PCR.

Wilhelm, B., Leblanc, D., Houde, A., Brassard, J., Gagné, M.-J., Plante, D., Bellon-Gagnon, P., Jones, T.H., Muehlhauser, V., Janecko, N., Avery, B., Rajic, A., and McEwen, S.A. (2014). "Survey of Canadian retail pork chops and pork livers for detection of hepatitis E virus, norovirus, and rotavirus using real time RT-PCR.", International Journal of Food Microbiology, 185, pp. 33-40. doi : 10.1016/j.ijfoodmicro.2014.05.006  Access to full text

Abstract

Over the past 15 years, hepatitis E virus (HEV), norovirus (NoV), and rotavirus (RV) have been hypothesized to be potentially zoonotic; swine and pork have been suggested as possible human infection sources for all 3 viruses. Our objective was to estimate HEV, NoV, and RV prevalence and load on Canadian retail pork chops and livers. Using the Canadian Integrated Program for Antimicrobial Resistance Surveillance (CIPARS) sampling platform, pork livers (n = 283) and chops (n = 599) were collected, processed, and assayed for the 3 viruses by four collaborating federal laboratories using validated real time reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reactions (qRT-PCR). Follow-up qRT-PCR estimating viral load in genomic copies/g was followed by nested classical RT-PCR and isolate sequencing of a partial segment of the ORF2 gene. Local alignments were performed using MUSCLE (Multiple Sequence Comparison by Log-Expectation); a phylogenetic tree was created. Twenty-five livers and 6 chops were classified ‘positive’ (thresholds for viral RNA detected in both replicates of the assay) or ‘suspect’ (thresholds detected in one of two replicates) for HEV. Follow-up qRT-PCR detected HEV on 16 livers, 0 chops, and nested classical RT-PCR, on 14 livers and 0 chops. Initial qRT-PCR classified 12 chops ‘suspect’ for NoV. Follow-up qRT-PCR detected viral RNA on only one sample with thresholds greater than 40 in both replicates. No amplicon was yielded, and therefore no isolate was sequenced from this sample. Partial ORF2 genes from 14 HEV isolates were sequenced, and compared via sequence identity and phylogenetic analysis with selected human case isolates listed in NCBI-GenBank. Overall, HEV prevalence on retail pork was comparable with other published reports.

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