What is norovirus and why is it causing concern in the world?

Photo: Better With Health

They call norovirus the vomiting virus and it is already keeping the United Kingdom in suspense due to the number of cases that have been detected in recent days. “In the last 5 weeks, 154 outbreaks have been reported, compared to an average of 53 outbreaks reported during the same time period in the previous 5 years.” So says the report of Public Health England.

According to Elena Obieta, head of infectious disease service for communicable and emerging diseases of the municipality of San Isidro and member of the Argentine Society of Infectious Diseases (SADI), norovirus is a virus of the calcivirus family. “It is characterized by giving a gastrointestinal infectious picture, causing vomiting, diarrhea and fever, on some occasions. It usually has a short incubation period of between 12 and up to 48 hours ”, he details.

Leda Guzzi, an infectious disease doctor at the Olivos Clinic and the Santa Rosa de Vicente López Hospital, and also a member of SADI, says that this virus is acquired by direct contact with infected people or by consuming water or food contaminated with fecal matter. infected with norovirus. He adds that, in general, these are self-limited pictures that revert after two to three days, with plenty of hydration and a proper diet.

“It can be serious in immunocompromised or very weakened people such as the elderly, infants and people suffering from some type of serious disease such as leukemia or advanced HIV disease. It is a highly contagious disease that, with a low inoculum, that is, with few viruses, in the stool, can compromise several people and occasionally lead to severe dehydration, ”explains Guzzi.

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Norovirus symptoms and control

But at the same time, the infectologist at the Olivos Clinic points out that it is easily controlled. It is done by taking certain measures, such as cleaning the toilets and the environment in general with diluted bleach water. Also, hand washing is important, especially before eating and after using the bathroom.

“The emergence of multiple outbreaks, as is happening in the United Kingdom, should force an epidemiological investigation. This should include investigation of the foods that were eaten in the outbreak areas. But also from the water that is drunk and the disposal of excreta ”, he adds.

At the same time, Guzzi assures that in other countries there should be no concern because for now the outbreak occurred only in the United Kingdom. Although it clarifies that the occurrence simultaneously with the covid complicates the diagnosis because it can also cause diarrhea, vomiting and abdominal pain.

“The big problem is that the symptoms are confused. Therefore, in the United Kingdom it is likely that they will have to make a diagnosis of both pathologies to rule out that the patient has covid. It is that this requires a different isolation. Beyond the fact that the cleaning of the environment is the same to eradicate the two viruses, the direct and cohabiting contacts of people with the coronavirus must be isolated. They cannot continue to go to work or continue their daily life, ”says Guzzi.

By Cintia Perazo

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