Detection of human bocavirus species 2 and 3 in bivalve shellfish in Italy

G. La Rosa, G. Purpari, A. Guercio, S. Di Bella, F. Gucciardi, Y. T.R. Proroga, M. Pisanu, S. Della Libera, M. Iaconelli, E. Suffredini

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Human bocavirus (HBoV) has been shown to be a common cause of respiratory infections and gastroenteritis in children. Recently, HBoVs have been detected in sewage and river waters in Italy and worldwide. However, studies on their presence in other water environments and in bivalve mollusks are not yet available. In this study, 316 bivalve shellfish samples collected in three Italian regions over a 6-year period (2012 to 2017) were analyzed by nested PCR and sequencing using broad-range primer pairs targeting the capsid proteins VP1 and VP2 of HBoV. The virus was detected in 27 samples (8.5% of the total samples), and a statistically significant difference was found within the three regions. A further 13 samples, collected in geographic and temporal proximity to positive samples, were included in the study to assess the spread of HBoV in shellfish production areas at the time of contamination. Twelve of these additional samples were found to be positive for HBoV. All positive samples in this study were characterized as HBoV species 2 (17 samples; 8 different sequences) or species 3 (22 samples; 4 different sequences). This study reports the occurrence of HBoV in bivalve shellfish and shows evidence of considerable spatial spread of the virus throughout shellfish production areas. Further studies are needed to elucidate both the role of HBoV as an agent of gastroenteritis and the risk for foodborne transmission of this virus.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere02754-17
JournalApplied and Environmental Microbiology
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - Apr 1 2018


  • Bocavirus
  • Mollusk
  • PCR
  • Sequencing
  • Shellfish-growing areas

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Food Science
  • Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology
  • Ecology


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