Book chapters will be unavailable on Saturday 24th August between 8am-12pm BST. This is for essential maintenance which will provide improved performance going forwards. Please accept our apologies for any inconvenience caused.
Historical outbreaks can be an important source of information in the understanding of norovirus evolution and epidemiology. Here, we revisit an outbreak of undiagnosed gastroenteritis that occurred in Shippensburg, Pennsylvania in 1972. Nearly 5000 people fell ill over the course of 10 days. Symptoms included diarrhea, vomiting, stomach cramps, and fever, lasting for a median of 24 h. Using current techniques, including next-generation sequencing of full-length viral genomic amplicons, we identified an unusual norovirus recombinant (GII.Pg/GII.3) in nine of 15 available stool samples from the outbreak. This particular recombinant virus has not been reported in recent decades, although GII.3 and GII.Pg genotypes have been detected individually in current epidemic strains. The consensus nucleotide sequences were nearly identical among the four viral genomes analysed, although each strain had three to seven positions in the genome with heterogenous non-synonymous nucleotide subpopulations. Two of these resulting amino acid polymorphisms were conserved in frequency among all four cases, consistent with common source exposure and successful transmission of a mixed viral population. Continued investigation of variant nucleotide populations and recombination events among ancestral norovirus strains such as the Shippensburg virus may provide unique insight into the origin of contemporary strains.