Norovirus Facts: 5 Things You Didn’t Know About Stomach Flu

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The norovirus can tolerate extreme temperatures, so it is hard to kill. Photo by: GrahamColm

The norovirus can tolerate extreme temperatures, so it is hard to kill. Photo by: GrahamColm

The norovirus is highly-contagious virus that causes irritation in the stomach and intestines; resulting in stomach cramps, vomiting, and diarrhea. The norovirus is so widespread that about one in 15 Americans will catch the norovirus every year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The norovirus is one of the viruses that can cause food poisoning; according to the CDC, leafy greens, shellfish (especially oysters), and fresh fruit are the most common foods associated with the norovirus. So how do you get this virus, and is there a drug to prevent the painful symptoms? Here are five facts you may not know about the norovirus.

Norovirus Fact One: Possible Anti-viral Drug to Prevent and Treat Stomach Flu

Currently there is no vaccine or anti-viral drug to fight the norovirus, but a Kansas State University team lead by associate professor Kyeong-Ok Chang is working towards an antiviral drug that may help both prevent and treat the norovirus.  So why hasn’t there been a drug  to combat the norovirus yet? The problem with the norovirus is that it doesn’t grow in cells like other viruses, and growing the virus in a cell is the best way to determine if a drug will work against the virus. With the norovirus, researchers had to develop their own cell-based assay. ‘Cell based assay’ is a term to describe different experiments based on live cells which offer a more accurate picture of what would happen in a real-life scenario.

Norovirus Fact Two: Water May Be Spreading Stomach Flu

According to UPI, half of the norovirus cases in the United States can be traced back to fresh produce. So how does the norovirus get on our fruits and vegetables? By water. Dutch scientists from the Center of Infectious Diseases in the Netherlands  have explained how water could possibly be spreading the norovirus. Farmers use a variety of water sources from well water to river water, all of which may contain the norovirus. They use this contaminated water to dilute pesticides and then spray them onto our fruits and vegetables.

Norovirus Fact Three: A New Strain of Viral Gastroenteritis Every Three Years

The norovirus changes its game up by developing a new strain of the virus every two to three years, according to the CDC. The last new strain was in 2009, now in 2012 another new strain emerged; this one called GII 4. Sydney. This virus first appeared in March 2012 in Sydney, Australia. This strain of viral gastroenteritis has had outbreaks in Europe, the United States, as well as other countries.

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