A new strain of the stomach bug norovirus was been steadily moving around the globe. The strain was first identified in the U.S. September 2012.
The new norovirus strain is thought to have originated in Sydney, Australia, according to the San Diego Times. The new strain is not considered any more dangerous than other strains. It is, however, different and it is possibly taking those infected longer to shake of its effects.
The U.S. Center for Disease Control (CDC) states that due to its point of origin it has been called the ‘Sydney strain’ (or GII.4). It is not untypical for a new strain to develop every two or three years.
Since the first cases in Sydney, the viral strain has been identified in Japan and Western Europe, as well as North America. In the U.S. it is accounting for around 60% of norovirus cases.
Dr. Aron Hall, a CDC epidemiologist specializing in viruses, is quoted by NBC as saying: “Right now, it’s too soon to tell whether the new strain of norovirus will lead to more outbreaks than in previous years. However, CDC continues to work with state partners to watch this closely and see if the strain is associated with more severe illness.”
According to the Snellville Patch, the first norovirus outbreak was reported in Ohio in 1968. Today, approximately 21 million illnesses are attributable to norovirus in the U.S. each year,
Norovirus is highly contagious. It is often referred to as ‘stomach flu’, due to it causing vomiting and diarrhea for a few days. The virus often spreads in crowded public places like schools, cruise ships and nursing homes, especially during the winter.