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article imageHow to keep safe from norovirus

By Tim Sandle     Nov 28, 2016 in Health
Norovirus, the so-called ‘winter vomiting disease’, is prevalent this time of year and makes headlines when it hits confined areas like cruise ships. A new report offers five recommendations for keeping safe.
Norovirus is the most common cause of viral gastroenteritis. The virus is transmitted by fecally contaminated food or water, by person-to-person contact. The virus can pass through the air and contaminate surfaces.
A person infected with norovirus experiences nausea, vomiting, watery diarrhea, abdominal pain, over a 24 to 48 hour period. In addition, weakness, muscle aches, headaches can occur.
In a recent paper, medical scientists, led by Dr. Megan Baldridge, from the Washington University School of Medicine scientists and colleagues at the University of Michigan Medical School have presented five facts about the virus, together with some tips for avoiding infection.
These facts are:
1. People can shed norovirus for months.
Once infected a person experiences symptoms between one and four days later. However, a person can continue to carry the virus and pass it onto other people up to 30 days later.
2. Best way to avoid norovisus? Wash your hands.
Norovirus is spread most easily in crowded public areas, via contaminated food or contact with surfaces. In an area where infected is suspected, the best thing a person can do is to regularly wash their hands.
3. Some people are more susceptible to norovirus than others.
There are different types of the virus and it is possible for someone to be infected several times. However, the likelihood of infection and how a person reacts to the virus is dependent upon a person’s genetic make-up.
4. Norovirus can trigger other gut problems.
Norovirus has been linked to other gut problems, such as irritable bowel syndrome. This is because the virus can alter the bacterial balance in the gut, leading to inflammatory conditions.
5. There is no vaccine, but new strategies are being worked on.
Although there is no vaccine against the virus, new research shows that particular biological factors can slow down or kill the virus.
The findings are reported to the journal Trends in Molecular Medicine. The paper is “Norovirus Regulation by Host and Microbe.”
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