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Building Capacity to Control Viral Foodborne Disease: A Translational, Multidisciplinary Approach

Investigators
Yeh, Li-An; Williams, Leonard; Vinje, Jan; Moe, Christine; Lee, Alvin; Jaykus, Lee-Ann; Hall, Aron; Fraser, Angela; Estes, Mary; Cannon, Jennifer; Beaulieu, Stephen; Atmar, Robert
Institutions
North Carolina State University
Start date
2011
End date
2014
Objective

Human noroviruses (HuNoV) are the most common cause of food borne disease (FBD). The purpose of the USDA-NIFA Food Virology Collaborative is to develop improved knowledge, skills, and capacity to study food borne viruses across the farm-to-fork continuum. Six core areas (objectives) are identified along with projected outputs over the 5-year funding duration.

Objective 1, Molecular Virology: Develop improved methods to study HuNoV and other viral causes of FBD. Outputs include: increased understanding of HuNoV replication with the goal of producing an in vitro culture system; relevant, validated, cultivable HuNoV surrogates; identification of new viral FBD agents; and mathematical models for predicting strain emergence.

Objective 2, Detection: Develop sensitive, rapid, and practical methods to detect/genotype HuNoV in relevant sample matrices. Outputs include practical, broadly reactive, validated detection methods for clinical, food, and environmental samples; recommended practices for discriminating virus infectivity status; microarray method(s) for HuNoV genotyping; and proof-of-concept biosensor technology.

Objective 3, Epidemiology and Risk Analysis: Collect/analyze population data on epidemiological significance of virus-associated FBD, including epidemiological attribution and characterization of risk/costs. Outputs include quantitative risk assessment models; comprehensive assessment of the burden of epidemic and endemic HuNoV disease; and food source attribution models.

Objective 4, Prevention and Control: Improve understanding of HuNoV prevalence/behavior in the food safety continuum for development of scientifically justifiable, commercial control measures. Outputs include estimates of occurrence of HuNoV in fresh produce and molluscan shellfish; validation of alternative indicators for viral contamination; evaluation of novel hand and surface sanitizers with antinoroviral efficacy; mathematical models to predict virus inactivation kinetics; and validated method(s) to inactivate HuNoV in molluscan shellfish and produce items.

Objective 5, Extension, Education and Engagement: Engage stakeholders so as to translate/ disseminate research findings into practices targeting relevant audiences. Outputs include: on-line courses designed for food safety/public health professionals; a food service-focused educational curriculum for government and retail/foodservice industry partners; improved consumer educational materials; and outreach to fresh produce, molluscan shellfish, and retail food sectors.

Objective 6, Capacity Building: Build scientific and human capacity to support increased, sustained efforts in food virology into the future. Outputs include: a comprehensive, publicly accessible literature database; increased food virology capacity in state public health laboratories; a highly qualified and diverse scientific workforce; and an inter-institutional graduate curriculum in food virology. Through collaborative activities and stakeholder involvement, the Collaborative will build greater appreciation for the role of viruses to FBD for the long term goal of producing a measurable reduction in burden of viral FBD.

More information

NON-TECHNICAL SUMMARY:
Human noroviruses (HuNoV) are the leading cause of food borne disease (FBD), responsible for over 5 million cases in the U.S. annually. The major foods at-risk for contamination are molluscan shellfish, fresh produce, and foods that are extensively handled just prior to consumption. The most common means by which foods become contaminated with HuNoV is by direct contact with fecal matter on the hands of food workers who have not practiced adequate personal hygiene. This makes sense as HuNoV are shed in high numbers in the feces and vomit of infected individuals and they cause disease at very low doses. Individuals can shed virus in their fecal material before showing symptoms and/or long after they have recovered. Furthermore, HuNoV can persist for days to weeks in the environment; the vast majority of commercial hand and surface sanitizers are ineffective against these viruses; and they are resistant to many food processes. Despite their importance, most public health professionals, the food industry, and consumers continue to believe that bacteria, not viruses, are the most common cause of FBD. This is in large part because HuNoV are difficult to study: they cannot be cultivated outside of the human body, there are no commercial diagnostic tests available in the U.S., and only a few scientists are trained specifically in food virology. The purpose of this project is raise awareness of the importance of viruses, particularly HuNoV, to FBD; to increase our capacity to study these agents; and to use advanced tools to design targeted control measures. The USDA-NIFA Food Virology Collaborative will use an integrated, multidisciplinary approach combining the three traditional land grant missions (research, education, and extension) with substantial stakeholder involvement, to accomplish these goals. Research efforts will focus on developing improved tools to study HuNoV, including advanced culture techniques, molecular virology methods for detection, and mathematical modeling. These will be used to design and evaluate truly effective control measures, such as better sanitizers or food processing technologies specifically designed to inactivate viruses. Extension and outreach efforts will extend basic and applied research findings into real-world practices. Using surveys, educational interventions (website, interactive activities, posters, print materials, and video), and short courses, extension materials will be delivered by both traditional and novel (such as social media and the Internet) mechanisms, assuring wide audience reach. Educational efforts focus on building scientific capacity in food virology by improving information and materials exchange, and building human capacity, with a focus on increasing diversity in the context of interdisciplinary university-based training programs. The strong and diverse project management team has decades of experience in various aspects of food virology. Collectively, the output of this project will be enhanced understanding, surveillance, and control of food borne HuNoV, with the ultimate goal of reducing burden of FBD caused by viruses.

APPROACH:
Human noroviruses (HuNoV) are the most common cause of food borne disease (FBD). The purpose of the USDA-NIFA Food Virology Collaborative is to develop improved knowledge, skills, and capacity to study food borne viruses across the farm-to-fork continuum. Six core areas (objectives) are identified along with projected outputs over the 5-year funding duration. Objective 1, Molecular Virology: Develop improved methods to study HuNoV and other viral causes of FBD. Outputs include: increased understanding of HuNoV replication with the goal of producing an in vitro culture system; relevant, validated, cultivable HuNoV surrogates; identification of new viral FBD agents; and mathematical models for predicting strain emergence. Objective 2, Detection: Develop sensitive, rapid, and practical methods to detect/genotype HuNoV in relevant sample matrices. Outputs include practical, broadly reactive, validated detection methods for clinical, food, and environmental samples; recommended practices for discriminating virus infectivity status; microarray method(s) for HuNoV genotyping; and proof-of-concept biosensor technology. Objective 3, Epidemiology and Risk Analysis: Collect/analyze population data on epidemiological significance of virus-associated FBD, including epidemiological attribution and characterization of risk/costs. Outputs include quantitative risk assessment models; comprehensive assessment of the burden of epidemic and endemic HuNoV disease; and food source attribution models. Objective 4, Prevention and Control: Improve understanding of HuNoV prevalence/behavior in the food safety continuum for development of scientifically justifiable, commercial control measures. Outputs include estimates of occurrence of HuNoV in fresh produce and molluscan shellfish; validation of alternative indicators for viral contamination; evaluation of novel hand and surface sanitizers with antinoroviral efficacy; mathematical models to predict virus inactivation kinetics; and validated method(s) to inactivate HuNoV in molluscan shellfish and produce items. Objective 5, Extension, Education and Engagement: Engage stakeholders so as to translate/ disseminate research findings into practices targeting relevant audiences. Outputs include: on-line courses designed for food safety/public health professionals; a food service-focused educational curriculum for government and retail/foodservice industry partners; improved consumer educational materials; and outreach to fresh produce, molluscan shellfish, and retail food sectors. Objective 6, Capacity Building: Build scientific and human capacity to support increased, sustained efforts in food virology into the future. Outputs include: a comprehensive, publicly accessible literature database; increased food virology capacity in state public health laboratories; a highly qualified and diverse scientific workforce; and an inter-institutional graduate curriculum in food virology. Through collaborative activities and stakeholder involvement, the Collaborative will build greater appreciation for the role of viruses to FBD for the long term goal of producing a measurable reduction in burden of viral FBD.

PROGRESS: 2012/06 TO 2013/05
Target Audience: Stakeholder engagement is a common theme in all project activities. Formalized extension and outreach activities are designed to improve understanding and expand use of measures to reduce viral foodborne disease risks. Six major stakeholder groups have been identified for this project: (i) fresh produce industry; (ii) molluscan shellfish industry; (iii) retail/institutional food sectors; (iv) detection technologies; (v) the cleaning, sanitizing, and hygiene sector; and (vi) food processing industries. Three major audiences are being targeted for communications programs: (i) food safety and public health professionals; (ii) food industry professionals (food production, processing, retail, and foodservice); and (iii) consumers. Both graduate and undergraduate internships are being offered. A synopsis of year 2 efforts is provided below: --The first NoroCORE full Collaborative meeting which included all PIs, select students and staff, and key stakeholders, was held in November, 2012. This included a one-day informational meeting introducing the Collaborative (morning) and formal stakeholder presentations (afternoon). The second day was an open listening session in which stakeholders directly interacted with researchers and extension professionals, identifying the most critical food virology needs of each stakeholder group. -- A formal NoroCORE display booth was designed for exhibiting at professional conferences. -- The first NoroCORE newsletter was designed and produced. --NoroCORE was represented at a variety of regional and national fresh produce safety meetings. PI Jaykus presented an overview of the project to the United Fresh Produce Association Food Safety and Technology Council. A virus module was designed and submitted for inclusion in the National Good Agricultural Practices (GAPs) program being developed by the Produce Safety Alliance (PSA). --Abstracts associated with the searchable NoroCORE Food Virology Literature database were made publicly available on the NoroCORE website in project year 2. --Practical laboratory-based training (done on-site) in Food Virology was provided by NoroCORE investigators (NCSU) to Louisiana State University. --Practical laboratory-based training (done on-site) provided by NoroCORE investigators (CDC) to Clemson University. --Many one-on-one calls with representatives from the detection stakeholder sector were done to discuss the feasibility and market for norovirus testing in foods and environmental samples. --NoroCORE sponsored a symposium at the annual meeting of the Institute of Food Technologists in June, 2012. --NoroCORE investigators produced information sheets and other extension documents focused on the role of hand hygiene in controlling foodborne viral disease transmission; virus contamination risks in restaurants; virus persistence in frozen produce items; and recommended hygiene practices in child care settings. --An active blog post was maintained on the NoroCORE website. --Materials to support a Foodborne Virus Outbreak workshop to train middle school teachers were prepared. The workshop was offered to over 75 NC teachers in project year 2. --Two paid, research-based summer internships were provided to undergraduates from historically-underrepresented populations in summer, 2012. These were hosted by investigators from Clemson and North Carolina State universities. --Five graduate fellowship awardees were identified to receive funding in project year 3. One of these is from an underrepresented population. The students represent the following universities: Baylor, Emory, Rutgers, Ohio State, and NC Central. --Two of the four modules for the formalized Food Virology graduate minor were completed in year 2. Changes/Problems: Additional reporting requirements include filing of progress reports (delivered to the NPL) every four months. No changes or problems to report this period. What opportunities for training and professional development has the project provided? --There is extensive graduate student training associated with the USDA-NIFA Food Virology Collaborative. To date, 34 graduate students have been, or are in training at the collaborating universities under the auspices of this project. About 10 post-doctoral research associates are also supported. Many of our collaborators also support undergraduates working on various NoroCORE-related projects. In all cases, students have assigned mentors with whom they work closely. In addition to their mentors, most institutions have a post-doctoral professional development program in which most of our post-docs participate. --The project sponsors a formal undergraduate and graduate fellowship program in Food Virology, with a focus on recruiting under-represented student populations. Our year 2 efforts in these programs are detailed in the �Target Audiences� section. --A list of regional, national and international conferences in which NoroCORE collaborators and their students/staff presented during project year 2 is provided below. The Collaborative had representation at many other local meetings not listed here. 113th General Meeting of the American Society for Microbiology, Denver, CO. May 21, 2013. Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program Multi-State Meeting, Charlotte, North Carolina, May 15, 2013. Epidemic Intelligence Service Conference, Atlanta, Georgia, April 22-26, 2013. Consumer Federation of America Food Policy Conference, Washington, D.C., April 16, 2013. VIROCLIME Conference, Cardiff, United Kingdom, March 13, 2013. Center for Food Safety Annual Meeting, Griffin, Georgia, March 6, 2013. U.K. Food Safety Authority Foodborne Viruses Research Conference, London, January 15-16, 2013. 39th Annual East Coast Commercial Fishermen�s and Aquaculture Trade Exposition, Ocean City, Maryland, January 18-20, 2013. Southeast Regional Vegetable Growers meeting, Savannah, Georgia, January 10-11, 2013. Annual meeting of the Merieux Research Grants Program, Annecy, France, October 22, 2012. IDWeek (Joint meeting of IDSA, SHEA, HIVMA, and PIDS), San Diego, California, October 17-21, 2012. 3rd Food and Environmental Virology Congress, Lisbon, Portugal, October 7-10, 2012. 8th United Fresh Produce Association Food Safety and Technology Council, Washington, D.C., October 1, 2012. Annual OutbreakNet Conference, Atlanta, Georgia, August 30, 2012FDA Northeast Region Annual Food Protection Seminar, Portsmouth, New Hampshire, August 22, 2012. 101st Annual Meeting of the International Association for Food Protection, Providence, Rhode Island, July 22-25, 2012. 31st Annual Meeting of the American Society for Virology, Madison, Wisconsin, July 21-25, 2012. Annual Meeting of Center for Produce Safety, Davis, California, June 27, 2012. --Practical laboratory-based training (done on-site) in Food Virology was provided by NoroCORE investigators to Louisiana State University. --Practical laboratory-based training (done on-site) provided by NoroCORE investigators (CDC) to Clemson University. How have the results been disseminated to communities of interest? Results have been disseminated using traditional mechanisms including: publications (peer reviewed research publications, conference proceedings, book chapters, and articles in the scientific and popular press); presentations at scientific and professional meetings (poster and oral); fact sheets, videos, and Powerpoint presentations; website and blogs; NoroCORE newsletters; NoroCORE booth at professional meetings; and in-person and web-based stakeholder meetings. See section on Target Audiences and Efforts for details. What do you plan to do during the next reporting period to accomplish the goals? A full description of next year�s activities is provided in the Year 3 renewal package. There are no changes.

PROGRESS: 2011/06/01 TO 2012/05/31
OUTPUTS: Activities: In Project Year 1, the Molecular Virology Core activities focused on developing an vitro cultivation method for human noroviruses (HuNoV), developing microarrays for foodborne virus (FBV) genotyping, and evaluating emerging human norovirus (HuNoV) surrogates. The Detection Core has been developing novel ligands for use in capturing FBV from complex samples like feces and foods, as well as establishing standard operating procedures (SSOPs) for virus detection. The Epidemiology and Risk Analysis Core is combining clinical and laboratory-based capacity, and engaging medical and public health professionals, so that it is possible to better characterize the endemic and epidemic burden of FBV disease. This core is also developing mathematical models to estimate the economic costs and risks associated with FBVs. During Year 1, the efforts of the Prevention and Control Core focused on evaluating novel surface sanitizers for removal/inactivation of HuNoV from fresh produce, and investigating emerging food processing technologies for their potential antiviral efficacy. The Extension and Outreach Core is working to improve understanding and expand use of measures to reduce FBV disease risks as a function of commodity, by first characterizing audience knowledge so as to create appropriate training materials for audience-specific stakeholders. Capacity Building Core efforts focus on student training and fostering communications amongst the group. Events: The project Executive Board met twice in Year 1. Team members presented scientific findings at the following venues: 2011 annual meetings of the International Association for Food Protection (IAFP), American Society for Virology, Infectious Disease Society of America, International Conference on Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy, International Conference on Emerging Infectious Disease, and the University of Georgia Center for Food Safety. Presentations were also made at the 2012 biennial meeting of the Conference for Food Protection; Noro2012; Western Food Safety Summit; National Advisory Committee on Microbiological Criteria for Foods (NACMCF); and by invitation at various other venues. The team was officially represented at meetings of the Produce Safety Alliance (PSA); Interstate Shellfish Sanitation Conference (ISSC); FoodCORE Vision meeting; and Epidemic Intelligence Service (EIS) Conference. Products: During the reporting period, the Collaborative produced a jointly shared Food Virology Literature Database; invention disclosures and patents and/or applications relative to levulinic acid as an antiviral agent, and peptides, synbodies, and nucleic acid aptamers as HuNoV capture and detection ligands. Our website was launched (http://norocore.ncsu.edu/). Dissemination and outreach: Official Industry and Government Scientific Advisory Committees were formed and the goals/strategies to be employed by the project have been shared with them. Other stakeholders were identified and contacted through one-on-one communication with relevant professional and trade associations. PI Jaykus was extensively interviewed subsequent to public announcement of funding in July, 2011. PARTICIPANTS: The organizational structure of the USDA-NIFA Food Virology Collaborative (NoroCORE) consists of institutional tiers. At the highest level is PI Lee-Ann Jaykus of North Carolina State University (NCSU). Dr. Jaykus manages the day-to-day operations of the project, including facilitating communications; managing financial aspects; interfacing with the funding agency and industry/government advisory committees; and representing the group as a whole. Other NCSU faculty members with NoroCORE involvement include Benjamin Chapman, David Green, Trevor Phister, and Christopher Gunter. The NoroCORE administrative staff at NCSU consists of Malakai Erskine (administrative director); Catherine Gensel (communications specialist); O.D. Simmons (research assistant professor); and Christina Moore (curriculum development specialist). Laboratory-based research efforts at NCSU are headed by senior researcher staff members Helen Rawsthorne, Blanca Escudero-Abarca, and Rebecca Goulter. Currently, 4 NCSU graduate students are supported on the project. At the next organizational tier are the institutions with which the co-PDs are affiliated (8 in total). The co-PDs lead the Collaboratives six core functions. The role of the cores is to shape the project scientific plan; identify and prioritize key activities in research, extension, and training; manage the progress of projects; and serve as a liaison and representative for core activities. The lead (Dr. Jaykus) and core PDs also constitute the NoroCORE Executive Committee. The Molecular Virology core is directed by Jan Vinje [U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)] and Mary Estes (Baylor College of Medicine). The Detection core is directed by Robert Atmar (Baylor College of Medicine) and Jennifer Cannon (University of Georgia). The efforts of the Epidemiology and Risk Analysis core are coordinated by Christine Moe (Emory University), Aron Hall (CDC), and Stephen Beaulieu (Research Triangle Institute International). The Prevention and Control core is directed by Alvin Lee [University of Illinois and the National Institute of Food Safety and Health] and Leonard Williams (North Carolina A&T State University). The Extension and Outreach core is coordinated by Angela Fraser of Clemson University, in collaboration with Dr. Moe of Emory. Finally, the activities of the Capacity Building core are directed by both Dr. Jaykus and Li-An Yeh of North Carolina Central University. At the third tier are the institutions housing the Collaborating Investigators, including: Kali Kniel (University of Delaware); Richard Linton, Linda Saif, and Jianrong Li, and Qiahong Wang (The Ohio State University); Robert Mandrell (USDA Agricultural Research Service); Charles Arntzen (Arizona State University); Jason Jiang (Cincinnati Childrens Hospital); and Donald Schaffner (Rutgers University). Several state health departments and VA medical centers are involved in the project. A full accounting of all the project participants is beyond the scope of this narrative, but additional details are available on request. TARGET AUDIENCES: Stakeholder engagement is a common theme in all NoroCORE activities. Formalized extension and outreach activities are designed to improve understanding and expand use of measures to reduce viral foodborne disease (FBD) risks as a function of commodity. The three major commodity groups identified for NoroCORE efforts are the (i) fresh produce, (ii) molluscan shellfish, and (iii) retail/institutional food sectors. From a broader perspective, three major audiences are being targeted for communications programs: (i) food safety and public health professionals; (ii) food industry professionals (food production, processing, retail, and foodservice); and (iii) consumers. Initial (Year 1) efforts at stakeholder engagement focused on identifying members of the formal Industry and Government Advisory Committees. The role of the advisory committees is to chart the course of the project; provide advice on research, training, and extension/outreach efforts; review project outcomes; and aid in evaluating program success. Multiple stakeholder engagement meetings are being planned for project year 2, both with the formal advisory committees as well as with the broader stakeholder community. PROJECT MODIFICATIONS: Nothing significant to report during this reporting period.

Funding Source
Nat'l. Inst. of Food and Agriculture
Project source
View this project
Project number
NC09805
Accession number
225445
Categories
Bacterial Pathogens
Viruses and Prions
Natural Toxins
Prevention and Control
Risk Assessment, Management, and Communication