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Open Access Study protocol

Serosurvey of veterinary conference participants for evidence of zoonotic exposure to canine norovirus – study protocol

João Rodrigo Mesquita12* and Maria São José Nascimento1

Author Affiliations

1 Laboratório de Microbiologia, Departamento de Ciências Biológicas, Universidade do Porto, Rua Jorge Viterbo Ferreira, 228, 4050-313, Porto, Portugal

2 Secção de Ciências Veterinárias, Instituto Politécnico de Viseu, Quinta da Alagoa - Estrada de Nelas, Ranhados, 3500-606, Viseu, Portugal

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Virology Journal 2012, 9:250  doi:10.1186/1743-422X-9-250

Published: 30 October 2012

Abstract

Background

Noroviruses have emerged as the leading cause of outbreaks and sporadic cases of acute gastroenteritis in humans worldwide. Person-to-person contact and consumption of contaminated food are considered the most important ways of transmission of noroviruses however zoonotic transmission has been suggested. Recently, noroviruses have been found in dogs which, unlike bovine and swine noroviruses, may present a higher risk of zoonotic transfer, given to the often close contacts between humans and pet dogs in many societies across the world. The present paper describes a seroepidemiologic study aiming to provide information on the exposure level of humans to canine norovirus.

Methods/Design

A case–control study was designed to address the potential exposure to canine norovirus based on the presence of antibodies against canine norovirus. Sera from veterinarians (a population repeatedly in close contact with dogs) will be collected in an annual Veterinary Sciences Congress in Portugal. In addition, sera from general population will be obtained and used as controls for comparative purposes. All sera will be tested for the presence of canine norovirus antibodies using a virus-like particle-based enzyme immune assay. Risk factors for canine norovirus antibodies presence in veterinarians will be investigated through the delivery of an anonymized questionnaire to the participants.

Discussion

The present study aims to identify seropositive individuals to canine norovirus and to assess risk profiles among veterinary professionals with occupational exposure to dogs. To our knowledge this is the first study providing information on the potential zoonotic risk of canine norovirus, thus allowing the development of preventive measures and ascertaining potential risks for Public Health resulting from contact to dogs.

Keywords:
Canine norovirus; Occupational exposure; Zoonosis; Veterinarians; Public Health; Risk factors