Friday November 24th 2017

New GII 4 Sydney Norovirus Spreads through United States

norovirusSANTA ANA Calif. (FNP) – Health officials are warning that the new strain of the GII.4 Sydney norovirus (Norwalk virus) is easily transmitted. The virus is displacing the previously dominant strain of the GII.4 New Orleans norovirus.

Compounding the problem, the norovirus is not susceptible to alcohols and detergents frequently used to kill germs on the hands. Heating and chlorine-based disinfectants can deactivate the virus, according to Leslie Barclay at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Unlike an influenza infection which can be transmitted with 1,000 particles, a norovirus infection can be transmitted with as few as 18 particles. This new superbug can remain contagious on a door handle for two weeks. By comparison, the regular flu virus can remain contagious on a door handle for just hours.

The norovirus is the leading source of stomach illness, causing 21 million cases in the United States per year. It is estimated that 300-800 people will die from norovirus each year. The norovirus – sometimes referred to as the Norwalk virus because the first cases were identified in 1972 from a 1968 Norwalk Ohio outbreak – causes approximately 90 percent of the global epidemic nonbacterial outbreaks of gastroenteritis. It is responsible for 50 percent of the food-borne gastroenteritis infections in the United States.

The infection can be passed from person to person or from contaminated food and water. Person-to-person is the most common form of transmission, causing seven out of 11 cases. The norovirus can also become aerosolized when flushing vomit or feces. Lowering the lid of the toilet can help limit the spray.

Although some people may not have any symptoms, the virus can begin to replicate within the small intestines. Symptoms will become apparent within one to two days causing acute gastroenteritis lasting for 24 to 60 hours. Those stricken with the illness may feel nauseated and may even experience forceful vomiting. Another indication is watery diarrhea and abdominal pain accompanied in some cases by muscle aches, headaches, coughs, a low-grade fever, and loss of taste.

Although few people are admitted to the hospital, the elderly, the very young, and those with a weakened immune system are most susceptible.

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