Inactivation of norovirus and surrogates by natural phytochemicals and bioactive substances

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Human norovirus is the leading cause of sporadic gastroenteritis, which is responsible for more than 90% of all nonbacterial gastroenteritis outbreaks. While norovirus infections typically cause mild and self-limiting symptoms lasting 24–48 h, chronic persistent infections can cause severe symptoms. Although recent advances have been made in understanding the molecular characteristics of norovirus infection, no norovirus-specific antiviral drugs, or vaccines are available. Conventional intervention methods used to inactivate norovirus, such as treatment with disinfecting agents (e.g. ethanol, hypochlorite, and quaternary ammonium formulations), have shown a lack of efficacy against human norovirus when they are applied to foods and in food preparation processes. Therefore, alternative antiviral or inactivating agents such as phytochemicals have received attention as potential norovirus inhibitors due to their relatively low toxicity and lack of side effects, which allows them to be prepared as food-safe formulations. Evidence from studies using viral surrogates suggests that numerous phytochemicals and foods containing flavonoids and polyphenols have anti-norovirus activity, and future studies will be necessary to confirm the effectiveness of such compounds against human norovirus and the molecular mechanisms through which they produce antiviral effects.

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