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Viruses

We cannot only become infected by viruses through direct contact but also through foods. BfR examines and assesses the risks of viral infections following the consumption of different foods. In this connection BfR hosts the National Reference Laboratory for Foodborne Viruses.

What are viruses?

Viruses are the smallest pathogens which cause infections. They only consist of genetic material which is surrounded by a protective envelope of fats and/or protein.

As opposed to bacteria, viruses have no own metabolism and cannot multiply themselves. They need the cell of a living organism, the so-called host.

Overview of some viruses

Noroviruses cause gastro-intestinal diseases in all age groups which are characterised by vomiting and diarrhoea. They are highly infectious and can be transmitted both directly from human to human and indirectly through contaminated surfaces or foods.

Rotaviruses are pathogens which cause diarrhoea. Mainly infants can have very severe courses of disease. Outbreaks frequently occur in day care centres. The virus is easily transmitted from human to human but also through contaminated foods.

Hepatitis A viruses cause acute inflammations of the liver (hepatitis). Their transmission is either directly from humans to humans or indirectly with contaminated foods serving as transmission vehicle. Many hepatitis A diseases in Germany are contracted abroad. Only four weeks after the infection the first symptoms appear.

The comparatively rare disease caused by hepatitis E viruses is very similar to hepatitis A. The virus is found in countries with a low hygiene standard in contaminated drinking water or foods but also in pigs and wild boar in central Europe, including Germany. The possibility of transmission from food made of them, which is insufficiently heated before consumption, is discussed.

The influenza A virus H5N1 – also known as "bird flu" – can cause severe general diseases and pneumonia in humans. It originates from infected poultry and can be transmitted through close contact with the latter in individual cases to humans. Transmissions via foods do not seem to play a role.

The disease caused by the influenza A virus H1N1 – referred to as "swine flu" – has a slightly milder course. In most cases it causes a moderately developing general disease in humans affecting the respiratory tract. It is easily transmitted between humans by droplet infection. An involvement of foods at the transmission of this virus is so far not known. 

Legal basis

Decision 99/131/EC and Regulation (EC) 882/2004.

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Information

 (1)
Date Title Size
14.12.2015
BfR Information Nr. 047/2015
Wearing gloves when eviscerating animals protects hunters from hepatitis E 22.8 KB
PDF-File

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Opinion

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Date Title Size
19.09.2019
BfR Opinion No 014/2019 of 18 April 2019, updated on
New pathogens in beef and cow’s milk products: More research required 81.5 KB
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06.10.2012
BfR Opinion No. 038/2012
Tenacity (resistance) of noroviruses in strawberry compote 75.1 KB
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22.02.2012
BfR Opinion No. 009/2012
Schmallenberg virus: Infection through food unlikely 28.7 KB
PDF-File

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BfR-Corona-Monitor

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Date Title Size
12.10.2021
BfR-Corona-Monitor - as to 12 - 13 October 2021 1.6 MB
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28.09.2021
BfR-Corona-Monitor - as to 28 - 29 September 2021 810.8 KB
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14.09.2021
BfR-Corona-Monitor - as to 14 - 15 September 2021 805.6 KB
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03.08.2021
BfR-Corona-Monitor - as to 3 - 4 August 2021 830.5 KB
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20.07.2021
BfR-Corona-Monitor - as to 20 - 21 July 2021 738.4 KB
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06.07.2021
BfR-Corona-Monitor - as to 6 - 8 July 2021 739.3 KB
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22.06.2021
BfR-Corona-Monitor - as to 22 - 23 June 2021 776.6 KB
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08.06.2021
BfR-Corona-Monitor - as to 8 - 9 June 2021 778.4 KB
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25.05.2021
BfR-Corona-Monitor - as to 25 - 26 May 2021 779.2 KB
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11.05.2021
BfR-Corona-Monitor - as to 11 - 12 May 2021 599.8 KB
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27.04.2021
BfR-Corona-Monitor - as to 27 - 28 April 2021 600.1 KB
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13.04.2021
BfR-Corona-Monitor - as to 13 - 14 April 2021 588.1 KB
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30.03.2021
BfR-Corona-Monitor - as to 30 - 31 March 2021 584.0 KB
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16.03.2021
BfR-Corona-Monitor - as to 16 - 17 March 2021 611.6 KB
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02.03.2021
BfR-Corona-Monitor - as to 2 - 3 March 2021 520.4 KB
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16.02.2021
BfR-Corona-Monitor - as to 16 - 17 February 2021 514.0 KB
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02.02.2021
BfR-Corona-Monitor - as to 2 - 3 February 2021 506.2 KB
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19.01.2021
BfR-Corona-Monitor - as to 19 - 20 January 2021 518.8 KB
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05.01.2021
BfR-Corona-Monitor - as to 5 - 6 January 2021 504.6 KB
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17.12.2020
BfR-Corona-Monitor - as to 17 - 18 December 2020 469.1 KB
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08.12.2020
BfR-Corona-Monitor - as to 8 - 9 December 2020 463.5 KB
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24.11.2020
BfR-Corona-Monitor - as to 24 - 25 November 2020 465.0 KB
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10.11.2020
BfR-Corona-Monitor - as to 10 - 11 November 2020 458.8 KB
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27.10.2020
BfR-Corona-Monitor - as to 27 - 28 October 2020 433.7 KB
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13.10.2020
BfR-Corona-Monitor - as to 13 - 14 October 2020 440.7 KB
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29.09.2020
BfR-Corona-Monitor - as to 29 - 30 September 2020 439.9 KB
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15.09.2020
BfR-Corona-Monitor - as to 15 - 16 September 2020 435.3 KB
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01.09.2020
BfR-Corona-Monitor - as to 1 - 2 September 2020 443.1 KB
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18.08.2020
BfR-Corona-Monitor - as to 18 - 19 August 2020 432.5 KB
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04.08.2020
BfR-Corona-Monitor - as to 4 - 6 August 2020 427.0 KB
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21.07.2020
BfR-Corona-Monitor - as to 21 - 22 July 2020 419.6 KB
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07.07.2020
BfR-Corona-Monitor - as to 7 - 8 July 2020 415.3 KB
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23.06.2020
BfR-Corona-Monitor - as to 23 - 24 June 2020 417.4 KB
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09.06.2020
BfR-Corona-Monitor - as to 9 - 10 June 2020 382.8 KB
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26.05.2020
BfR-Corona-Monitor - as to 26 May 2020 1.2 MB
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19.05.2020
BfR-Corona-Monitor - as to 19 May 2020 1.2 MB
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12.05.2020
BfR-Corona-Monitor - as to 12 May 2020 1.1 MB
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05.05.2020
BfR-Corona-Monitor - as to 5 May 2020 1.1 MB
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28.04.2020
BfR-Corona-Monitor - as to 28 April 2020 1.1 MB
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21.04.2020
BfR-Corona-Monitor - as to 21 April 2020 1.1 MB
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14.04.2020
BfR-Corona-Monitor - as to 14 April 2020 1.1 MB
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07.04.2020
BfR-Corona-Monitor - as to 7 April 2020 1.1 MB
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31.03.2020
BfR-Corona-Monitor - as to 31 March 2020 1.1 MB
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24.03.2020
BfR-Corona-Monitor - as to 24 March 2020 878.1 KB
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Press releases

 (34)
Date Title Keywords
04.10.2021
40/2021
3G or 2G? How the rules are received COVID-19/corona, food safety , viruses
06.09.2021
37/2021
3G rule: Three out of four support the new regulations COVID-19/corona, food safety , viruses
26.07.2021
34/2021
Latest BfR-Corona-Monitor: population limits its leisure behaviour less COVID-19/corona, food safety , viruses
14.06.2021
27/2021
Growing feeling of safety among the population COVID-19/corona, food safety , viruses
19.04.2021
15/2021
Infection with Corona: Sense of security among the population has slightly increased COVID-19/corona, food safety , viruses
08.03.2021
10/2021
Corona: Nearly half of the population has already gotten tested COVID-19/corona, food safety , viruses
08.02.2021
06/2021
Working from home: Majority supports the new regulation COVID-19/corona, food safety , viruses
25.01.2021
04/2021
Corona vaccination: Approach receives approval COVID-19/corona, food safety , viruses
11.01.2021
02/2021
Protection against corona: 82 percent ventilate more frequently COVID-19/corona, food safety , viruses
23.12.2020
45/2020
The majority of respondents approves the tightening of measures COVID-19/corona, food safety , viruses
14.12.2020
42/2020
Coronavirus pandemic: Entering the Christmas season with caution COVID-19/corona, food safety , viruses
02.11.2020
36/2020
Even before the new corona rules come into force, many have become more cautious COVID-19/corona, food safety , viruses
16.10.2020
33/2020
Ban on accommodation meets with mixed acceptance among the population COVID-19/corona, food safety , viruses
21.09.2020
30/2020
Despite coronavirus: Social contacts increase again COVID-19/corona, food safety , viruses
24.08.2020
27/2020
Vast majority supports mandatory corona tests for returnees COVID-19/corona, food safety , viruses
11.08.2020
25/2020
Population still considers coronavirus pandemic relevant COVID-19/corona, food safety , viruses
26.06.2020
23/2020
A quarter say they use the Corona-Warn-App COVID-19/corona, food safety , viruses
15.06.2020
22/2020
Coronavirus: The majority is not worried, but still cautious COVID-19/corona, food safety , viruses
05.06.2020
20/2020
Keep diarrhoea and jaundice at bay food safety , hepatitis A , hepatitis E , noroviruses , rotaviruses, viruses
29.05.2020
18/2020
The risk of coronavirus is still taken seriously COVID-19/corona, food safety , viruses
15.05.2020
16/2020
Coronavirus infection: Perceived safety grows COVID-19/corona, food safety , viruses
07.05.2020
15/2020
Coronavirus pandemic: Increased desire for social contacts COVID-19/corona, food safety , viruses
30.04.2020
14/2020
Coronavirus: health and economic concerns COVID-19/corona, food safety , viruses
24.04.2020
12/2020
Mandatory wearing of masks finds broad approval COVID-19/corona, food safety , viruses
17.04.2020
11/2020
Fear of coronavirus declines COVID-19/corona, food safety , viruses
09.04.2020
10/2020
Coronavirus pandemic: risk awareness is higher in old age COVID-19/corona, food safety , viruses
03.04.2020
08/2020
More people protect themselves from coronavirus COVID-19/corona, food safety , viruses
27.03.2020
07/2020
Infection with the coronavirus: Most feared are other people - and door handles COVID-19/corona, food safety , viruses
06.11.2018
38/2018
Caution, tasteless! Viruses and antimicrobially resistant bacteria in foods research , viruses
14.12.2015
38/2015
Wearing gloves when eviscerating game protects hunters against hepatitis E food infection , hepatitis E , zoonoses
16.12.2013
33/2013
Invisible enemies - tips to ensure that viruses don’t spoil your appetite food hygiene , food infection , food safety , viruses
23.11.2012
40/2012
Pathogens in food: Progress and new challenges for zoonosis control food safety , noroviruses , salmonella , zoonoses
08.10.2012
32/2012
Outbreak of acute vomiting with diarrhoea in children and youths over, cause identified food safety , noroviruses
05.10.2012
31/2012
A batch of deep-frozen strawberries is probably the cause of a major outbreak of acute vomiting with diarrhoea in children and young adults in the eastern federal states food safety , noroviruses

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