Food and Environmental Virology

, Volume 5, Issue 1, pp 13–23

Shellfish-Borne Viral Outbreaks: A Systematic Review

Review Paper

DOI: 10.1007/s12560-012-9097-6

Cite this article as:
Bellou, M., Kokkinos, P. & Vantarakis, A. Food Environ Virol (2013) 5: 13. doi:10.1007/s12560-012-9097-6


Investigations of disease outbreaks linked to shellfish consumption have been reported in the scientific literature; however, only few countries systematically collate and report such data through a disease surveillance system. We conducted a systematic review to investigate shellfish-borne viral outbreaks and to explore their distribution in different countries, and to determine if different types of shellfish and viruses are implicated. Six databases (Medline, Embase, Scopus, PubMed, Eurosurveillance Journal and Spingerlink electronic Journal) and a global electronic reporting system (ProMED) were searched from 1980 to July 2012. About 359 shellfish-borne viral outbreaks, alongside with nine ProMED reports, involving shellfish consumption, were identified. The majority of the reported outbreaks were located in East Asia, followed by Europe, America, Oceania, Australia and Africa. More than half of the outbreaks (63.6 %) were reported from Japan. The most common viral pathogens involved were norovirus (83.7 %) and hepatitis A virus (12.8 %). The most frequent type of consumed shellfish which was involved in outbreaks was oysters (58.4 %). Outbreaks following shellfish consumption were often attributed to water contamination by sewage and/or undercooking. Differences in reporting of outbreaks were seen between the scientific literature and ProMED. Consumption of contaminated shellfish represents a risk to public health in both developed and developing countries, but impact will be disproportionate and likely to compound existing health disparities.


Shellfish Outbreak Viral infection Consumption Sewage 

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Environmental Microbiology Unit, Department of Public Health, School of MedicineUniversity of PatrasRio PatrasGreece

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