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Bethesda, Maryland: Researchers find polyomaviruses in several samples of supermarket hamburger

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  • Bethesda, Maryland: Researchers find polyomaviruses in several samples of supermarket hamburger

    J Gen Virol. 2015 Jan 7. pii: vir.0.000033. doi: 10.1099/vir.0.000033. [Epub ahead of print]
    Hamburger polyomaviruses.

    Peretti A1, FitzGerald PC1, Bliskovsky V1, Buck CB1, Pastrana DV1.
    Author information


    Epidemiological studies have suggested that consumption of beef may correlate with an increased risk of colorectal cancer. One hypothesis to explain this proposed link might be the presence of a carcinogenic infectious agent capable of withstanding cooking. Polyomaviruses are a ubiquitous family of thermostable non-enveloped DNA viruses that are known to be carcinogenic. Using virion enrichment, rolling circle amplification (RCA), and next-generation sequencing, we searched for polyomaviruses in meat samples purchased from several supermarkets. Ground beef samples were found to contain three polyomavirus species. One species, bovine polyomavirus 1 (BoPyV1), was originally discovered as a contaminant in laboratory fetal calf serum. A previously unknown species, BoPyV2, occupies the same clade as human Merkel cell polyomavirus and raccoon polyomavirus 1, both of which are carcinogenic in their native hosts. A third species, BoPyV3, is related to human polyomaviruses 6 and 7. Examples of additional DNA virus families, including herpesviruses, adenoviruses, circoviruses, and gyroviruses were also detected either in ground beef samples or in comparison samples of ground pork and ground chicken. The results suggest that the virion enrichment/RCA approach is suitable for random detection of essentially any DNA virus with a detergent-stable capsid. It will be important for future studies to address the possibility that animal viruses commonly found in food might be associated with disease.

    PMID: 25568187 [PubMed - as supplied by publisher]

    Full text at link below in PDF format (Note no conclusions are made about cause and effect):

    The primary goal of this study was to search for polyomaviruses in food-grade meat
    products. Our finding that three (and apparently only three) polyomavirus species are commonly
    detectable in food-grade ground beef does not provide any indication of whether the presence of
    viruses in meats has any bearing on the health of humans or cattle. Future studies aimed at
    experimentally addressing this unanswered question could focus on deep sequencing of tumors,
    pre-cancerous lesions, or other diseased tissues.

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