Our goal was to develop a method to swab surfaces for the detection of norovirus. A researcher at the CDC came to Puritan with a request to customize a swab for the detection of norovirus. With the researcher’s input, we developed the device needed for the work to be done. This mission presented was to develop a collection device to swab surfaces for the detection of norovirus.
The transport system included a swab with a pre-moistened tip that would swab a broad surface. The 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.
Specimen Collection in the Field
Once the workable swab design was finalized, a team comprised of interested parties from a number of universities took it into the field to begin specimen collection.
The swabs were returned to the lab for processing, where it was confirmed that the swab collected and successfully transported the virus.
This extensive project provided the data that made completion of the swab evaluation by the CDC possible. See more in the published article that accompanies the video we linked to above.
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, environmental scientists are now armed with the device and the protocol to not only find norovirus but to confirm recontamination of contaminated surfaces.