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Norovirus outbreak reported in UK: All you need to know about highly contagious virus

According to CDC, the most common symptoms of norovirus are diarrhoea, vomiting, nausea, stomach pain.

July 19, 2021 / 02:15 PM IST
Norovirus is highly infectious and causes vomiting and diarrhoea but usually passes in a couple of days. (Image: AP)

Norovirus is highly infectious and causes vomiting and diarrhoea but usually passes in a couple of days. (Image: AP)


England has reported a rise in cases of Norovirus, a highly contagious virus similar to the coronavirus. Public Health England said that in the last 5 weeks, 154 outbreaks have been reported, compared to an average of 53 outbreaks reported over the same time period in the previous 5 years.

"The overall number of laboratory-confirmed norovirus reports across all age groups has also recently increased to the levels seen in previous years before the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic," it said in a statement on July 16.

The increase in outbreaks has been mostly in educational settings, particularly in nursery and childcare facilities, with far more incidents reported to PHE than would be expected in the summer months, it added.

Everything you need to know about norovirus

What is norovirus?

Norovirus is sometimes called the stomach flu or stomach bug. However, norovirus illness is not related to the flu which is caused by influenza virus, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

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A vaccine works by mimicking a natural infection. A vaccine not only induces immune response to protect people from any future COVID-19 infection, but also helps quickly build herd immunity to put an end to the pandemic. Herd immunity occurs when a sufficient percentage of a population becomes immune to a disease, making the spread of disease from person to person unlikely. The good news is that SARS-CoV-2 virus has been fairly stable, which increases the viability of a vaccine.

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There are broadly four types of vaccine — one, a vaccine based on the whole virus (this could be either inactivated, or an attenuated [weakened] virus vaccine); two, a non-replicating viral vector vaccine that uses a benign virus as vector that carries the antigen of SARS-CoV; three, nucleic-acid vaccines that have genetic material like DNA and RNA of antigens like spike protein given to a person, helping human cells decode genetic material and produce the vaccine; and four, protein subunit vaccine wherein the recombinant proteins of SARS-COV-2 along with an adjuvant (booster) is given as a vaccine.

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Vaccine development is a long, complex process. Unlike drugs that are given to people with a diseased, vaccines are given to healthy people and also vulnerable sections such as children, pregnant women and the elderly. So rigorous tests are compulsory. History says that the fastest time it took to develop a vaccine is five years, but it usually takes double or sometimes triple that time.

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Norovirus is highly infectious and causes vomiting and diarrhoea but usually passes in a couple of days. It is easily transmitted through contact with infected individuals or contaminated surfaces, PHE said.

What are the symptoms of norovirus?

Norovirus causes inflammation of the stomach or intestines. This is called acute gastroenteritis.

A person usually develops symptoms 12 to 48 hours after being exposed to norovirus. Most people with norovirus illness get better within 1 to 3 days.

According to CDC, the most common symptoms of norovirus are diarrhoea, vomiting, nausea, stomach pain. Other symptoms may be fever, headache, body aches.

How does norovirus spread?

According to CDC, norovirus spreads very easily and quickly in different ways such as eating food or drinking liquids that are contaminated with norovirus; touching surfaces or objects contaminated with norovirus and then putting fingers in the mouth, or having direct contact with someone who is infected with norovirus, such as by caring for them or sharing food or eating utensils with them.

How to prevent the spread of norovirus?CDC recommends practising proper hand hygiene like washing hands thoroughly with soap and water especially after using the toilet or changing diapers, always before eating, preparing, or handling food, and before giving yourself or someone else medicine.
Moneycontrol News
first published: Jul 19, 2021 02:15 pm

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