Date PostedMay 6, 2013

Norovirus Strains Baffles US Authorities

The US Centres for Disease Control (CDC) are apparently battling over a new strain of the dangerous Norovirus which has become a real problem in the United States lately.

Anyone can be infected and become ill from Norovirus multiple times in one lifetime. The most common cause of gastroenteritis in the United States, Norovirus causes about 21 million illnesses and contributes to 70,000 hospitalizations and 800 deaths per year. Norovirus is also the most common cause of U.S. food-borne disease outbreaks, causing more than 50 per cent of infections.

The new strain was discovered in September 2011 and the outbreaks are still continuing because it is very different from previous strains and so is more difficult to control. According to a study conducted by the CDC over a period of 4 months, there were almost 300 different cases the new virus reported in the US alone although the number is probably much higher because many cases of food poisoning often go unnoticed.

The major concerns associated with this new strain of the virus is that it can be spread more easily through direct contact with people who are infected or through food that has been contaminated. What’s interesting about this new strain is that it is believed to have originated in Sydney.

Read what www.foodsafety.com.au reported on the new strain:

iStock_000007289219XSmallIn fact, the origination of the norovirus, called GII.4, seems to trace back to Sydney. According to several reported incidents, this strain began in Australia and has been traced to several different countries. Whether or not it started in any type of Australian food is not yet known.

Norovirus is a common condition that tends to make people sick throughout the months of December, January, and February. It is a contagious virus that causes such symptoms as:

Gastroenteritis
Nausea
Vomiting
Diarrhoea

According to the CDC, both the elderly and young children are most susceptible to the illness. About 800 people die a year from gastroenteritis in the United States. Anyone who has a compromised immune system, including those with immune-suppressant diseases and pregnant women, can be especially susceptible to the condition.
Right now, there are more cases of Norovirus than normal in the United States. That is because this is a new strain. None of the consumers have had a chance to develop an immunity to the condition, and the vast majority of doctors are not yet prepared for detecting and treating the strain. However, the CDC also notes that this is not that unusual. In fact, according to records and research, a new strain forms about every four years and tends to spread from one country to the next.

Source: http://www.foodsafety.com.au/2013/04/us-struggles-with-new-strain-of-norovirus/

The post goes on to warn Aussies that the strain did originate in Australia and so they also need to be vigilant with food handling and preparation in order to avoid infection.

The author then advises Aussies to wash their hands thoroughly while cooking and always cook shellfish properly. It is also important that fruit and vegetables are properly washed before they are eaten.

Also it is important that no one should prepare foods for others if they are sick even if they have washed their hands because the virus can still be passed on to others through the foods.

 

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