Reducing the spread of Norovirus? It's in your hands.
What is Norovirus?
The norovirus is a particularly contagious bug that affects over a million Brits each year, and causes up to two days of diarrhoea and projectile vomiting as well as fluey symptoms.The Norovirus bug used to be known as the 'winter vomiting bug' but it can affect people at any time of year. It is opportunistic & can lurk anywhere but simple hygiene measures can go a long way to warding it off.
Resarch suggests that up to four million people in Britain come down with the norovirus “winter vomiting bug” each year – at a cost of more than £700m to society, not to mention the considerable personal discomfort.
This particular strain of stomach bug – or gastroenteritis – can be caught at any time of year but it often flares up more in the winter, as cold weather forces us indoors, creating damp conditions that are ideal for helping it to spread easily.
“Norovirus is known as the winter vomiting bug because the virus causes increased cases during the winter period,” says David Lawrence of the Health Protection Agency.
“In fact, it has been estimated that it accounts for around 90% of non-bacterial gut infections worldwide. The distinctive symptom of norovirus is a sudden onset of nausea.”
How do I catch Norovirus?
The majority of norovirus outbreaks occur in food service settings, and 70 percent of infected workers cause 70 percent of those outbreaks. Several recent studies indicate that people work in food service industry jobs even when they’re sick.
Infected food workers often cause – and spread – norovirus outbreaks, typically because they’ve touched ready-to-eat foods, such as raw fruits and vegetables, with their germ-infested bare hands before serving them. Or they touch other items that have been contaminated, such as cell phones, utensils, doorknobs, etc., and spread the disease to others through this contact. Often, stool or vomit particles have caused the contamination. An individual only needs to ingest few of those particles, as few as 18 is enough, to get sick.
And be warned, door handles can be just as contaminated. Adam Krieder learned this during a recent hand hygiene program at Penn State Behrend - “I swabbed the (door knob) right in front of Bruno’s Café, and it was pretty bad. The bacteria filled the whole petri dish,” said Krieder, a sophomore biology major from Hermitage.
5 Facts about Norovirus.
Norovirus is a highly contagious virus that causes gastroenteritis. According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), norovirus contributes to about 19 to 21 million illnesses each year. Norovirus also contributes to causes about 56,000 to 71,000 hospitalizations and 570 to 800 deaths annually. These 5 important facts can help to prevent the spread of norovirus.
Norovirus is highly contagious.
Norovirus causes gastroenteritis
Adults and children can become infected with norovirus
There is no treatment, just supportive care.
There are a variety of tips to prevent the spread of norovirus
Norovirus Prevention Guide
People can minimise the risk of the virus by washing their hands thoroughly and being careful when preparing food.
However, a doctor has warned people should not just use alcohol hand gels as they ‘do not kill the virus’.
Dr Neil Wigglesworth, President of the Infection Prevention Society said: “Avoid contact as much as possible with anyone infected with norovirus.
He warned that if people get norovirus they should also avoid visiting anyone in hospital during this time. Instead get plenty of rest, and don't interact with people for at least 72 hours after the symptoms.
In 2014, Christian Living Communities developed the Norovirus Prevention Guide. Since it has been implemented, this guide has reduced outbreaks at CLC communities by 83%.
Norovirus Latest Research (2019)
University of Arizona researchers have created a portable method for detecting low levels of norovirus.
Jeong-Yeol Yoon and his colleagues at the University of Arizona in the US built the system using a microscope attachment for a smartphone and a separate light source. Combined they can detect low levels of norovirus in water.
Detecting very small amounts of norovirus in water or food samples typically involves a polymerase chain reaction (PCR)-based method, which takes several hours and is done in a lab by trained personnel.
The new technique is sensitive enough to detect as little as 10 attograms (10−18 grams) of norovirus per millilitre, which is six orders of magnitude better than other portable detectors, says Yoon. As few as tens of norovirus particles are enough to make people sick, he says.
Noroviruses are the top cause of foodborne illness. A person usually develops symptoms 12 to 48 hours after being exposed to the virus. Most people get better within one to three days. During 2009 to 2015, the Foodborne Disease Outbreak Surveillance System (FDOSS) received reports of 1,130 norovirus outbreaks and 27,623 outbreak-associated illnesses.
In further research, a team of scientists from Baylor College of Medicine and Vanderbilt University Medical Center have determined a mechanism by which human antibodies target and block noroviruses.Their study, which appears in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences today, opens the possibility of developing therapeutic agents against this virus that causes the death of about 200,000 children every year.
“Some people infected with norovirus do not get sick,” said senior author Dr. B V Venkataram Prasad, professor of virology and the Alvin Romansky Chair in biochemistry at Baylor. “We wanted to understand how these protective human antibodies work.”