<p>The purpose of this project is to develop a better means by which to detect and discriminate human norovirus infectivity status, and then apply these methods to evaluate the efficacy of hand sanitizers and surface disinfectants intended for use in food handling environments. </p><p>Specific objectives are:</p><p><ol><li> Develop and optimize novel ligand-bound integrated detection methods as a means by which to discriminate human norovirus infectivity status;</li><li> Characterize the performance of the novel ligand-bound methods by comparing them to other infectivity determination methods (e.g., RNase-RT-qPCR, integrated antibody and HBGA capture) using one inactivation strategy targeting virus capsid integrity only (heat) and one targeting both capsid and genome integrity (free chlorine); and</li><li> Use the methods evaluated above, in conjunction with protein analysis and transmission electron microscopy, to evaluate the efficacy and mechanism of action of candidate surface disinfectants and hand sanitizers. </li></ol></p>
Human noroviruses are the most important cause of acute gastroenteritis, with about 21 million illnesses occurring every year in the United States. These viruses are most often spread between people, and also via the food supply. Hands and surfaces contaminated with virus are important contributors to disease spread. There are many reasons it is so difficult to control norovirus transmission, i.e., (i) the viruses are released in the millions in vomit and feces, but it takes only a few to cause disease; (ii) they persist in the environment for weeks; and (iii) noroviruses are very resistant to most routinely used sanitizers and disinfectants. Because scientists cannot grow these viruses in the laboratory, it is very difficult to study, detect, or evaluate methods to kill norovirus. The purpose of this project is to develop better detection methods, and to use those to evaluate how well commonly used hand sanitizers and surface disinfectants work against noroviruses. This work will be done in three phases, i.e., (i) use the tools of molecular biology to develop better detection methods; (ii) validate that those methods work; and (iii) apply the methods to determine which sanitizers and disinfectants are best at killing noroviruses. Identifying the most effective products helps the food and healthcare industries to use the best methods to control norovirus in their settings; it also provides consumers with some guidance for protecting themselves and their families. Such work will reduce the numbers of cases of norovirus illness and improve the health of the American public.