With winter starts flu season when people start getting hit by influenza and norovirus a.k.a. winter vomiting virus or stomach flu. But doctors often focus more on influenza partly because vaccines are available to prevent this virus. But norovirus usually remains out of public health radar.
Here’re the five little known things about norovirus
The common thing about influenza and norovirus is they are both RNA viruses. In other words, they use RNA to replicate and it is what makes them highly mutation-prone that in turn makes it difficult for human immune system to against these viruses.
Norovirus has a special enclosure called capsid. It is a structure that keeps the virus safe from alcohol and other disinfectants. Also, it can survive for several days in room temperature. Regular hand-sanitizers and soap water don’t work on it. But bleach especially chlorine bleach or hydrogen peroxide can clean this virus. Hot water also works on this virus. It is advised that the clothes, bedsheets and utensils of infected persons should be disinfected properly using chlorine bleach.
It spreads via the fecal-oral route and if you aren’t maintaining hygiene like washing your hands properly, you can spread this virus to others. It would keep producing in your body even after you feel better. You should stay inside for a couple of days after treatment.
Since it spreads even after infected persons have recovered, an infected person can be a potential threat to hundreds healthy people. Meeting people in public is dangerous in winter but you are more likely to get infected with norovirus in restaurants that don’t maintain hygiene or turn a blind eye to well-being of their staff. An infected restaurant worker can spread the infection, if joins early.
Norovirus gets a free hand because it remains in the gut where no vaccine can reach. And it becomes a killer because it mutates fast and even after an infected person feels better. According to an estimate, approximately 200,000 people are killed by norovirus globally.
Several pharma companies are working on developing an effective vaccine to contain norovirus but the success is yet to be achieved. But the work is going fast and a breakthrough is expected anytime in near future.