Entries in Norovirus (5)


Vomiting Robot Helps Researchers Understand Norovirus

Hemera/Thinkstock(LONDON) -- In a study that could make you lose your own lunch, researchers have created a projectile-vomiting robot to research how far the highly contagious norovirus particles travel when somebody with the illness throws up.

Norovirus causes severe projectile vomiting and diarrhea in those infected for up to three days starting 12 to 48 hours after exposure. The symptoms can last up to 62 hours. On average, someone infected with norovirus spreads it to about seven other people through direct touch or contaminated surfaces and food. The virus sickens as many as 21 million Americans each year, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, leading to 70,000 hospitalizations and 800 deaths.

Researchers at the Occupational Hygiene Unit at the Health and Safety Laboratory in Britain created “Vomiting Larry” to get a better idea of how the virus is able to spread so easily and quickly from person to person.

Vomiting Larry consists of a cylinder body filled with water mixed with florescent liquid, a head with an open mouth, and a pump to shoot the water through the mouth, similar to projectile vomit.

After Larry throws up the florescent water, researchers measure how far the airborne vomit particles travel.

“Under normal lighting, you can only see the main area where Larry actually vomited,” Catherine Makison-Booth, Larry’s creator, told ABC News. “However, under UV light, you can see the particles spread much further than that – in excess of three meters.”

That means the area that needs to be sanitized when someone with norovirus throws up is bigger than previously thought.

Earlier studies indicate the virus could live for 12 days or longer in the environment where somebody vomited, so the entire area needs to be cleaned with bleach as soon as possible after the vomiting occurred in order to stem the spread of the illness.

Because norovirus spreads quickly and easily from person to person, it can rapidly infect hundreds of people in a short amount of time.

“It can knock out a whole school, hospital, military base or off-shore rig, and there is currently no vaccine for it, so you really just have to let it run its course,” Makison-Booth said.

Makison-Booth said she doesn’t know of any illness that spreads quite the way norovirus does, because it takes so little for a person to contract it.

“One only needs to ingest 20 to 25 viruses to become ill, compared to the hundreds of viruses it takes to contract influenza,” Makison-Booth told ABC. “When someone with norovirus vomits once, that’s millions of viruses.”

Norovirus is also resistant to many typical cleaning products, like the kinds generally used to clean kitchens and bathrooms, as well as normal hand sanitizer. In order to really clean up after someone with norovirus throws up, “bleach is definitely the way to go,” Makison-Booth said.

People infected with norovirus should try to stay away from other people for at least 48 hours after the symptoms stop.

The studies could soon become especially relevant, with news that norovirus cases in England this winter are up 72% from last year, according to the Health Protection Agency, including on ships making transatlantic crossing to the United States.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


British Scientists Create Puking Robot to Help Fight Norovirus

Photodisc/Thinkstock(LONDON) -- In an effort to battle the virulent, vomit-inducing norovirus, British scientists have crafted a real spouting Thomas -- a robot that simulates the stomach bug's most sickening symptom: projectile vomiting.

According to the BBC, Vomiting Thomas, as the booting bot has been called, helps scientists like Professor Ian Goodfellow literally track how quickly somebody suffering from the bug can spread it to others.  The short answer to that question is really quickly.

The norovirus has been known to strike dozens of people in close proximity at one time, and just being around somebody throwing up from it is enough to spread the disease to others.  Hence the utility of a robot that can puke on command.

"Norovirus is the Ferrari of the virus world," Goodfellow comments, explaining that in 40 years, a cure for the bug has evaded scientists.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Suspected Norovirus Outbreak Strikes Notre Dame Sports Camp

Hemera/Thinkstock(NOTRE DAME, Ind.) -- Health investigators in Indiana are working to uncover the reasons behind an apparent outbreak that sickened 107 middle and high-schoolers attending sports camps at the University of Notre Dame on Wednesday.

Of the kids who fell ill with symptoms that included vomiting, nausea and diarrhea, 29 were sent to area hospitals, according to a report by ABC News affiliate ABC57.

"At about 2 a.m. yesterday morning...we had a number of camp participants waking up ill and contacting coaches in the residence halls," Notre Dame spokesman Dennis Brown told ABC News Thursday. "Once it became clear that it was more than just a couple, we knew it was more than just an isolated incident or two."

Brown said that the summer camps are continuing to operate despite the outbreak, although some of the participants have been moved to other accommodations.

"We attended to the kids yesterday in terms of transportation to hospital and have taken the usual precautious, [including] cleaning residents rooms and common areas," he said.

"We've been making phone calls to all of the families of the participants who were sick both last night and today, touching base just to see how things are going making sure everything is OK."

Health investigators at the St. Joseph County Health Department are processing samples that would potentially reveal the true nature of the outbreak. Currently, the chief suspect is the highly contagious norovirus infection, which affects the stomach and intestines and leads to a condition known as gastroenteritis.

"This is the same virus that hits cruise ships," Dr. Thomas Felger of the St. Joseph County Health Department told ABC57's Emily Pritchard on Wednesday afternoon.

Nick Molchan, St. Joseph County Health Department administrator, told ABC News Thursday afternoon that the preliminary results from testing will only be available on Friday at the earliest. While norovirus is the suspected cause, Molchan said that the department is also examining samples from meals consumed by the sports camp participants to see if some other food-borne pathogen may have been to blame.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


2010 Norovirus Outbreak Caused by Snacks in Grocery Bag

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(HILLSBORO, Ore.) -- Public health researchers identified a reusable grocery bag as the source of a 2010 norovirus outbreak that sickened seven children and adults from Oregon who attended a soccer tournament in neighboring Washington state.

The grocery bag contained cookies, potato chips and fresh grapes, and was kept in the bathroom of a hotel room where one of the girls who got sick stayed with an adult chaperone.  The person who put the bag in the bathroom was not aware that someone in the room was ill.

“This is the first published report of norovirus infection without person-to-person transfer,” said Kimberly Repp, a case study co-author and now an epidemiologist with Oregon’s Washington County Health & Human Services.  “Two groups of people were infected by transportation of an inanimate object.”

While the sick child, who was suffering from vomiting and diarrhea, said she did not touch the bag or its contents, she did use the bathroom -- with the bag sitting there -- throughout the night.

The next day, the bag ended up in another hotel room and the contents were handled and eaten by other members of the group.  After that, the others eventually became ill.

Norovirus can be transmitted by tiny particles of vomit and feces floating in the air, so the virus can easily contaminate surfaces and objects.

“When people are sick in a bathroom, we all need to think beyond cleaning the toilet,” Repp said.  “We need to clean all the surfaces where the virus may have landed and everything else in the bathroom.”

One person who fell ill sought medical attention, but no one was hospitalized.  Five other people in the team members’ homes contracted the virus after the girls got home and got sick.  The virus can be shed in stool for up to two weeks after a person becomes ill.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


CDC Releases the Surveillance for Foodborne Disease Outbreaks Report

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The CDC has released the Surveillance for Foodborne Disease Outbreaks—United States, 2008 report in this week’s CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. The report essentially states the number of foodborne disease outbreaks and the agent and food groups most strongly associated with these outbreaks.

According to the report, during 2008 -- the most recent year for which foodborne outbreak data has been finalized -- there were 1,034 outbreaks reported.

These outbreaks resulted in 23,152 cases of illness and 22 deaths. Norovirus was the most common outbreak agent, followed by salmonella.

The top food groups associated with the most illnesses were fruits and nuts, vine vegetables and beef. The report also includes a full listing of the number of illnesses associated with each food category.

The CDC recommends that consumers and food handlers properly clean, separate, cook and chill foods in order to prevent foodborne illness.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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