A University of Florida researcher is conducting a two-year study of how norovirus travels through irrigation water and onto produce. Dr. Melissa K. Jones, a research assistant professor with the University of Florida, Gainesville, will lead the team.
Highly contagious norovirus is responsible for about 40 percent of all food poisoning outbreaks and the leading cause of diarrheal disease in the U.S.
“We’re kind of on the leading edge of it,” said Jones, who will present her findings during the CPS Produce Research Symposium, June 23 – 24, in Atlanta. “One of the things we’re learning about norovirus is they have a really high presence in the environment. And we’ve known for a long time that they are very, very stable and can survive for years in the water and the soil.”
The research group will include experts in the fields of food safety, foodborne disease and noroviruses. Identifying what factors can reduce norovirus survival will lead to a reduction in the incidence of illness, Jones said.