When Dr. Jan Vinje was looking for a swab to conduct his work at the CDC, he came to Puritan.
The goal of his team was to develop a method to swab surfaces for the detection of norovirus. Dr. Vinje envisioned a swab with a pre-moistened tip that would swab a broad surface. His ideal swab would have a handle long enough to collect from a variety of surfaces but short enough to fit in a transport tube that could be easily handled in the field, carried, and shipped.
A Custom Swab Solution
From previous work, Dr. Vinje had determined that a foam, or "macrofoam" tip, would be perfect. As for the pre-moistening solution, he found the best approach would be for him to specify the solution but have the swab provider formulate and pre-moisten the finished swab.
While this may sound straightforward, developing the final configuration took months of collaboration and several versions of the swab before it could evolve to the EnviroMax Sterile Round Macrofoam Norovirus Detection Swab and Collection Tube now seen in the CDC's video, "Swab Sampling Method for the Detection of Human Norovirus on Surfaces."
Specimen Collection in the Field
Once a workable swab was available, a team comprised of interested parties from a number of universities took it into the field to begin specimen collection. You can read about the surfaces sampled in the article that accompanies the video we linked to above.
The swabs were returned to the lab for processing, where it was confirmed that the swab collected and successfully transported the virus.
A Significant Health Hazard Everywhere
According to the United States Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture:
“Norovirus is the leading cause of foodborne illness in the United States accounting for around 5 million of the 21 million annual cases associated with contaminated foods. Cost of illness is estimated to be billions of dollars per year.”
Norovirus has been named the world’s most common cause of diarrhea and the most common food-borne disease in the United States. It can strike anywhere, from public schools and private universities to nursing homes and hospitals—even luxury cruise ships are not immune.
A Reliable Norovirus Detection Method
Detection is a critical step in better understanding the virus–where it is and how it spreads–so that its transmission can be checked or better managed.
Through Puritan's work with the CDC, environmental scientists are now armed with the device and the protocol to not only find norovirus but to confirm recontamination of contaminated surfaces.