Block 1: Identification of pollution sources and conditions responsible for microbial contamination in shellfish harvesting areas (0-18 months).
Sanitary surveys using existing bacteriological and environmental data will be conducted in four European harvesting areas (partners 3.IFREMER, 21.CEFAS, 44.USC). The sanitary surveys will be conducted using procedures determined within the project (partners 3.IFREMER, 21.CEFAS) based on best practice in Europe and worldwide. Existing information on the main pollution sources and harvesting area conditions responsible for the microbial deterioration of shellfish harvesting areas will be analysed.
Block 2. Determination of the impact of pollution sources and conditions causing microbial contamination on the viral contamination of shellfish (18-36 months).
Harvesting areas used for the sanitary surveys will be further investigated (partners 3.IFREMER, 21.CEFAS, 44.USC). Sampling plans will be carefully designed to take account of the main conditions responsible for microbial contamination identified in the first 18 months. Shellfish samples will be analysed using quantitative PCR for the presence of Norovirus (NV) and hepatitis A virus (HAV) and faecal indicators (E. coli and FRNA bacteriophages). (Partners 3.IFREMER, 21.CEFAS, 44.USC) The work is closely linked to project 3.1 to deliver quantitative tools for virus detection to achieve maximum results. Laboratories involved in sampling are also involved in the method development project. If project 1 fails to deliver quantifiable assays standardised RT-PCR methods will be used as a contingency. This will generate less information but will still allow the project to proceed in a meaningful manner. Further information on virus hazards will also be achieved by communicating with clinical and environmental laboratories through links already established by participating partners. Environmental data linked to sampling will also be analysed to assess their impact. Throughout this activity shellfish industry representatives will have an input through trade representative bodies to ensure industry practice which may contribute to viral contamination is identified (partner 60. Comité Nantional de la Conchyliculture (AEPM), Belgium.)