Page Banner

United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Persistence of Hepatitis a Virus Within Oysters

Authors
item Kingsley, David
item Richards, Gary

Submitted to: Journal of Food Protection
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: September 13, 2002
Publication Date: February 1, 2003
Citation: KINGSLEY, D.H., RICHARDS, G.P. PERSISTENCE OF HEPATITIS A VIRUS WITHIN OYSTERS. JOURNAL OF FOOD PROTECTION. 2003. Vol. 66 (2) p. 331-334

Interpretive Summary: Shellfish have long been known as a vector for the transmission of hepatitis A virus (HAV). Previous studies have shown that enteric viruses from fecal waste can remain within shellfish for longer periods than coliform bacteria, although coliform analysis is used as an indicator for unsanitary shellfish. We demonstrated persistence of infectious virus three weeks after exposure to HAV. Using more sensitive molecular biological techniques, we detected the virus for 6 weeks after HAV exposure. These data demonstrate that commercial depuration is not a viable means of purging infectious virus and further suggests that commercial relaying, or placing shellfish in alternate aquatic locations prior to harvest, even for extended periods, may not render shellfish completely safe for human consumption.

Technical Abstract: With this report we investigated the ability of hepatitis A virus (HAV) to persist within Eastern oysters (Crassostrea virginica) while kept under simulated natural conditions. We are able to detect viral RNA by reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) 6 weeks after contamination with 90,000 pfu of HAV. Assaying for viable virus, we demonstrate recovery of infectious HAV 3 weeks after contamination with the same amount of virus.

Last Modified: 4/17/2014