Norovirus is a major cause of viral gastroenteritis, and in the UK, foodborne transmission is responsible for an estimated 16 percent of norovirus cases. Human sewage discharge around oyster beds results in bioaccumulation of norovirus in oyster digestive glands, with more than 500 genome copies per gram (copies/g) of norovirus genogroups (G)I and GII presenting a major risk of infection when consumed by humans. There is a growing need for methods to detect and quantify viruses in bivalve shellfish to control and manage the risk of potential outbreaks and spread, with only two laboratories currently accredited against ISO 15216 standards for polymerase chain reaction (PCR) quantification of norovirus in oysters in the British Isles.

In this context, Primerdesign (part of the Novacyt Group) recently launched its new genesig® Easy_oys Detection Kit for Norovirus in oysters. The quantitative PCR (qPCR) assay enables rapid and reliable detection of norovirus (G)I and GII in oyster tissue. The user-friendly workflow offers a cost-effective solution that can be used onsite to identify contamination points across the production line, helping reduce public health risk and minimize shellfish farm closures.

qPCR methods offer a fast and accurate means of screening water and food. The genesig Easy_oys Norovirus kit is a qPCR assay optimized for the quantitative detection of norovirus GI and GII genomes in the digestive tissue of oysters. The highly sensitive kit is proven to detect both GI and GII in quantities as little as 500 copies/g, making it a suitable risk management tool to ensure that oysters with high infection risk are detected.

The kit includes all the reagents required to conduct viral testing in line with the ISO 15216 guidelines and without any prior lab experience. The complete testing workflow, including the exisgMag extraction kit, genesig Easy_oys norovirus kit, and the genesig q16 instrument, delivers results within four hours. It was developed in collaboration with oyster farmers and the Shellfish Association of Great Britain, providing oyster producers with an easy-to-use and accessible tool to rapidly assess food safety risk.