Finding the Virus

FDA approves first test for identification of norovirus

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) allowed marketing of the first test for the preliminary identification of norovirus, the virus responsible for the majority of cases of stomach flu.

The Ridascreen Norovirus 3rd Generation EIA assay is for use when a number of people have simultaneously contracted gastroenteritis and there is a clear avenue for virus transmission, such as a shared location or food.

Norovirus is a leading cause of food-borne disease outbreaks in the United States.

Acute gastroenteritis is an inflammation of the stomach and intestine that can cause diarrhea, vomiting and stomach pain. Norovirus contamination usually occurs in settings where there is close group contact, such as cruise ships, hospitals, long-term care facilities and schools or child-care centers. It is a highly contagious virus that spreads rapidly through direct person-to-person contact, contaminated food or water and by touching contaminated surfaces.

“This test provides an avenue for early identification of norovirus,” said Jeffrey Shuren, MD, JD, director of the FDA’s Center for Devices and Radiological Health. “Early intervention can halt the spread of an outbreak.”

The test is not sensitive enough for use when only a single person has symptoms and should not be used for diagnosing individual patients.

The manufacturer demonstrated the performance of the Ridascreen test by comparing results of it to the results of a norovirus reference standard for 609 fecal samples. When the fecal samples were tested with Ridascreen, overall results on average were less sensitive than those of standard reference tests, detecting norovirus across samples about 2/3 of the time it was present.

The FDA reviewed data for Ridascreen via the de novo pathway, an alternative path to market for devices that are lower risk and may not require premarket approval (PMA), but are of a new type, and therefore may not be able to be cleared in a '510(k)' premarket notification.

In March, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will be updating management and disease prevention guidelines for norovirus outbreaks. These guidelines will likely reflect substantial advances made in norovirus epidemiology, immunology, diagnostic methods and infection control.

Ridascreen is made by R-Biopharm AG, located in Darmstadt, Germany.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
February 23, 2011
Last Updated:
August 16, 2012