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Consultant Lab for Norovirus

Claus-Thomas Bock

During the last years norovirus infections proved to be the most frequent cause for epidemic gastroenteritis outbreaks. The viruses are excreted by infected persons via faeces and vomit. They are highly infectious and are marked by a high environmental resistance. Transmission can be caused by a smear infection (from person to person or via contaminated foods and/or water) or by virus-containing aerosols after vomiting. Norovirus infections affect all age groups and result, more particularly, during the winter months in larger outbreaks in community facilities like kindergartens, schools, nursing homes and hospitals. The therapy is applied symptomatically by compensation of fluid and electrolyte losses, because no causal therapy is available so far. Since 1.1.2001 norovirus infections have been notifiable under the German Infection Protection Act (§§ 6, 7).

The consulting laboratory has established molecular biological methods for the detection and characterisation of noroviruses and sapoviruses (including virus variability, genotyping, and detection of epidemic relationships), which are permanently adapted to the current sequence data. By means of sequencing and phylogenetic analyses in different genomic regions genomic changes (antigenic drift, recombination) are detected. These data are exchanged in close cooperation on the European level, in order to rapidly obtain information about the currently circulating virus variants in Europe and in the world.

For special issues molecular biological methods are also available for the detection of other viral gastroenteritis pathogens (astrovirus, Aichi virus, picobirnavirus, bocavirus).

For studies on the pathogenicity mechanism of the norovirus infection (e.g. virus/host interaction) analyses are carried out in murine noroviruses, since no efficient cell culture system for human noroviruses is available so far.

Date: 08.02.2013


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