Norovirus, also known as winter vomiting disease, is a very contagious virus that causes gastrointestinal problems in about 20 million Americans each year. Although you can catch the virus in any season, it is most popular during the winter. Here are some fast facts about the virus to help you better understand its pathology, and help you and your family avoid catching it.
How Do You Get It?
Anyone can get it, but some are more vulnerable than others. There are many different strains of the norovirus, and how people respond to certain strains is actually dependent on their genetics. However, the less healthy you are before you catch the virus, the worse the symptoms may be.
Megan Baldridge, a physician studying pathogens and the microbiome at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, recently published a review article on the virus.
"What can happen with people who are immunocompromised is that they can have a chronic debilitating infection that can be highly detrimental,” Baldridge explained in a recent statement.
The virus spreads very well in crowded places, so according to the recent review, it's important to wash your hands often whenever you’re in a public space. In addition, don't prepare food for others if you start to feel sick yourself so you won't spread the virus.
Unfortunately, there is no vaccine against the virus, although there are a number of possible candidates currently being researched.
"Up until now, vaccines have exclusively been using virus-like particles, but some new developments may make it possible to generate a live attenuated vaccine, which is pretty exciting," explained Baldridge.
What To Do If You Get Sick
If you or a loved one does fall ill, cleanliness is a top priority to ensure the virus does not spread any further. Unfortunately, the virus has a high tolerance for disinfectants. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that patients sick with norovirus drink plenty of fluids to prevent severe dehydration which can occur due to the extreme vomiting and diarrhea associated with the virus.
Source: Baldridge MT, Turula H, Wobus CE. Norovirus Regulation by Host and Microbe. Cell . 2016
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