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Norovirus is a common cause of gastroenteritis outbreaks associated with consumption of raw shellfish. The majority of norovirus infections world-wide are due to genogroup II noroviruses. Mussels (Mytilus galloprovincialis) at the end of the commercial chain, the points of purchase, were sampled and screened by an hemi-nested RT-PCR specific for genogroup II noroviruses. Noroviral RNA was detected in 10% of the samples, with the lower frequency being observed in samples obtained from hypermarkets (8%) rather than in samples from open-air markets and fish shops (16% and 12%, respectively), suggesting more efficient systems of purification and control being enacted by shellfish producers and suppliers of large retail chains. By sequence analysis, the strains were characterized as norovirus variant GII.b/Hilversum.
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