Norovirus Outbreaks from Drinking Water
As part of an intensified monitoring program for foodborne disease outbreaks in Finland, waterborne outbreaks were investigated for viruses. The diagnostic procedure included analysis of patients' stool samples by electron microscopy and reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) for noroviruses and astroviruses. When these test results were positive for a virus, the water sample was analyzed. Virus concentration was based on positively charged filters from 1-L samples. Of the total 41 waterborne outbreaks reported during the observation period (1998-2003), samples from 28 outbreaks were available for analysis. As judged by RT-PCR results from patient samples, noroviruses caused 18 outbreaks. In 10 outbreaks, the water sample also yielded a norovirus. In all but 1 instance, the amplicon sequence was identical to that recovered from the patients. The ubiquity of waterborne norovirus outbreaks calls for measures to monitor water for viruses.