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USDA Grants $25M for Norovirus Research

August 5, 2011

2 Min Read
USDA Grants $25M for Norovirus Research

RALEIGH, N.C.North Carolina State University (NCSU) received a $25 million grant from USDAs National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) to study human noroviruses across the food supply chain. The researchers will investigate and design effective norovirus control measures that will reduce the number of virus-caused foodborne illnesses.

Human noroviruses are the most common cause of food-borne disease, responsible for more than 5 million cases in the United States each year. Noroviruses spread from person to person, through contaminated food or water, and by touching contaminated surfaces. Molluscan shellfish like oysters, clams and mussels, fresh produce and foods that are extensively handled just prior to consumption are at greatest risk for contamination.

Dr. Lee-Ann Jaykus, a professor in the Department of Food, Bioprocessing and Nutrition Sciences at NCSU, is the lead investigator of the five-year project. Her group is called the USDA-NIFA Food Virology Collaborative.

Most public-health professionals, food-industry professionals and consumers continue to believe that bacteria, not viruses, are the most common cause of foodborne disease," Jaykus says. This is in large part because human noroviruses are difficult to study they cannot be cultivated outside of the human body, there are few commercial diagnostic tests available in the United States, and only a few scientists are trained specifically in food virology. We anticipate this project will result in enhanced understanding, surveillance and control of food-borne human noroviruses, with the ultimate goal of reducing the burden of food-borne disease caused by viruses."

In addition to NC State, which serves at the lead institution, the core team includes scientists from Clemson University, Baylor College of Medicine, Emory University, RTI International, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the University of Georgia, NC A&T State University, NC Central University, and the Institute for Food Safety and Health at Illinois Institute of Technology. Other key collaborators hail from the University of Delaware, the Ohio State University, Louisiana State University, the U.S. FDA and USDA Agricultural Research Service, Arizona State University, New Mexico State University, Cincinnati Childrens Hospital and Rutgers University. Various industrial and government stakeholders will serve the collaborative in advisory capacity.

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