AiV-1 is considered an emerging human enteric pathogens and foodborne transmission has been documented as an important source of exposure for humans, chiefly in relation to non-safe, risky food habits. We surveyed the presence of AiV-1 in retail shellfish, including oysters and mussles, identifying the virus in 3/170 (1.8%) of the analysed samples. The AiV-1 positive samples were of different geographic origin. Upon sequence analysis of a portion of the 3CD junction region, two AiV strains identified from harvesting areas in Northern Italy were characterised as genotype B and displayed 99-100% identity at the nucleotide level to other AiV-1 strains detected in sewages in Central Italy in 2012, suggesting that such strains are stably circulating in Italian ecosystems. Interestingly, a strain identified from mussles harvested in Southern Italy could not be characterised firmly, as inferred in the Bayesian analysis and by sequence comparison, indicating that different AiV strains are also circulating in Italy. Viral contamination in retail shellfish challenges the microbiological guidelines for food control and requires the development and optimization of additional diagnostic and prevention strategies.
Keywords: Aichi virus; Molecular methods; Retail shellfish.
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