Viral Analyses

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Courtesy of Analytical Services, Inc

Outbreaks of foodbome and waterborne illness have been associated with viruses'*' . The viruses that are typically transmitted by water (via the fecal-oral route) belong to one of the largest groups of viruses called the enteric viruses. At least 140 human enteric virus types are known, including 72 serotypes of enteroviruses, adenoviruses, reoviruses, rotaviruses, norwalk virus, and others*. Most of the enteric viruses are responsible for causing gastroenteritis or hepatitis, but some can affect the central nervous system, heart muscle, and respirator}' system.

In conjunction with its affiliated laboratory at the University of New Hampshire (UNH). Analytical Services. Inc. was one of ten microbiology laboratories approved by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to participate in virus sample analysis for the Information Collection Rule (ICR). ASl's Senior Scientist, Dr. Aaron Margolin. Associate Professor of Microbiology at UNH, was awarded the EPA contract to develop and test the protocol for preparation of the ICR virus Performance Evaluation (PE) samples.

Cell Culture
Viruses which are pathogenic to humans have traditionally been detected by cell culture methods. These methods involve culturing host cells as stationary monolayers in sterile petri dishes and infecting the cells with a viral inoculum. Cy-topathic effects or morphological changes are visualized in the infected cells. Cell culture media components are expensive, the technique is relatively difficult to perform, and results are often not available for up to six weeks after commencing the assay. In addition, viruses are host specific and require different cell lines for successful infection and replication. Lastly, not all viruses exhibit CPE.

Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR)
Another method of detection ASIUNH offers is polymerase chain reaction (PCR). PCR is a molecular method that amplifies viral nucleic acid without the need of culture techniques*'6. ASI/UNH routinely analyzes environmental samples for enteroviruses (poliovi-rus, coxsackie virus, and echo-virus types), hepatitis A virus, rotavirus, and noroviruses using PCR.

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