Title page for ETD etd-05222012-143527

Document Type Master's Dissertation
Author Netshikweta, Rembuluwani
Email rembunetshikweta@gmail.com
URN etd-05222012-143527
Document Title Optimisation and assessment of real-time PCR techniques for the detection of selected food- and waterborne viruses
Degree MSc
Department Medical Virology
Advisor Name Title
Dr W B Van Zyl Co-Supervisor
Prof M B Taylor Supervisor
  • food
  • vegetables
  • real-time PCR techniques
  • waterborne viruses
Date 2012-04-13
Availability unrestricted
The transmission of human pathogens by faecally contaminated fruit and vegetables is well established, but the burden of disease caused by foodborne pathogens is unknown. Fresh produce can be contaminated through the use of polluted irrigation water or by the handling of the produce by infected individuals either pre- or post harvest. There is very little known regarding the extent of viral contamination of irrigation water and fresh produce in South Africa. Noroviruses (NoV) and hepatitis A virus (HAV) are recognized as leading causes of foodborne viral disease. These viruses are transmitted predominantly via the faecal–oral route, primarily person-to-person by direct contact with an infected person, or indirectly by ingestion of contaminated food and water. The detection of enteric viruses in food or water is problematical and complex as many foodborne viruses, including HAV and NoV, cannot be readily isolated in cell culture.

The aim of this investigation was to develop and optimise simple and efficient methods for the concentration and detection of NoV GII and HAV in irrigation water and fresh produce. These methods would then be applied to field samples of irrigation water and fresh produce to try and establish a link between viral contamination detected in irrigation water and that on associated irrigated fresh produce. The efficiency of different commercial real-time reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction amplification kits for the realtime detection of HAV, NoV GI and NoV GII was assessed, and standard curves for the quantitative detection of these viruses were constructed using the most appropriate kit. Using two types of fresh produce, three different elution buffers, each at two pHs, with two different elution times were compared to establish which buffer was the most efficient for the extraction of viruses from the fresh produce. The tris-glycine beef extract buffer (pH 9.5) with an elution time of 20 minutes most efficient for the extraction of the selected enteric viruses from fresh produce. From April 2008 to November 2009, 86 irrigation water and 72 fresh produce samples were collected from commercial and subsistence farms, street vendors and commercial outlets. All the irrigation water and fresh produce samples were analysed for HAV, NoV GI and NoV GII. Overall, 16.3 % (13/86) and 12.5 % (9/72) of irrigation water and fresh produce samples tested positive for one or more human pathogenic viruses, namely NoV GII and HAV, respectively. Nucleotide sequence and phylogenetic analysis of the HAV and NoV GII strains identified clinically relevant viruses in the irrigation water and on the fresh produce. A direct link between contaminated irrigation water and contamination of fresh produce could not be established, but irrigation water was identified as a possible source of contamination of the fresh produce. The results also suggested that food handlers contributed significantly to the viral contamination of the fresh produce. This study highlights the potential health risk posed by fresh produce to consumers in South Africa and highlights the need for further in depth studies to quantify the risk to consumers. This study represents new data on the occurrence of enteric viruses in food and water in South Africa and is crucial for the development of effective intervention and control strategies for food safety in South Africa.

Copyright © 2011, University of Pretoria. All rights reserved. The copyright in this work vests in the University of Pretoria. No part of this work may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, without the prior written permission of the University of Pretoria

Please cite as follows:

Netshikweta, R 2011, Optimisation and assessment of real-time PCR techniques for the detection of selected food- and waterborne viruses, MSc dissertation, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, viewed yymmdd < http://upetd.up.ac.za/thesis/available/etd-05222012-143527 / >


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