After Covid-19, Is Norovirus the new outbreak?

The worst-case scenario that can be happening after the Covid-19 outbreak is the spread of Norovirus. The covid-19 strain has affected the world significantly during the last two years. The economy has fallen drastically, and it has even impacted tourism as well as the education sector. Many start-ups could not thrive due to the outbreak. Getting affected by another virus and its outburst is the last thing that any person would wish to happen in the world.

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Norovirus is a contagious virus that is capable of causing severe cases of vomiting and diarrhoea. Any person can get infected by the virus. One can get infected by the virus in the following ways:

  1. Transmission of the virus from an infected to a healthy person.
  2. Consumption of contaminated water or food.
  3. Not following proper sanitary measures. Touching disinfected surfaces and later, putting the hand in the mouth. 

The worse case in norovirus disease is that one can get the conditions multiple times in their lives. There are various strains of Norovirus. And, infection of one type of Norovirus does not protect us from the other types. There are chances that you can develop immunity against the various strains. However, it is not known for how long the immunity lasts. Also, the susceptibility to the stress of Norovirus is much dependent on the genes a person possesses.

The symptoms of Norovirus include common cases of vomiting, diarrhoea, and other food-borne diseases. The norovirus target site is the gastrointestinal tract and thus affects the stomach or small intestines resulting in the inflammation of the parts. It is referred to as acute gastroenteritis

The other symptoms may include nausea, stomach pain, fever, headache, and body aches. 

 The person does not develop the symptoms immediately after exposure to Norovirus. The symptoms take around 12 to 48 hours to build. Moreover, a person may show illness within 24 to 72 hours. 

 If the virus infects a person, they can face a severe case of dehydration which can be life-threatening. There are many symptoms of dehydration that include a decrease in urination, dry mouth and throat, and even feeling dizzy when suddenly standing up. The signs of dehydration in children may include fussiness or sleepiness. 

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One can get Norovirus by accidentally consuming tiny particles of excreta or vomit from an infected person. However, the only way to prevent the disease is to follow proper hygiene. One should wash their hands thoroughly with soap and water. One should follow the regime, especially after using the toilet, before consuming food and giving medicine to someone else. 

When outdoors, one should use hand sanitisers frequently. But the best practice is hand washing.

Before cooking, we should wash the vegetables well. Just heating foods may not kill Norovirus as they are primarily resistant to high temperatures. Also, proper care must be taken while handling infants or children. They should be kept away from places where food is being prepared.

Norovirus outbreak trends in India?

According to various sources, it has been reported that at least 13 people have been affected by the norovirus outbreak. It has been recorded in the Wayanad district of Kerala. Moreover, even the veterinary college students in Pookode near Vythiri were tested positive for the infection two weeks ago. The state government has asked the people to stay cautious and take measures to prevent the disease outbreak. 

Researches made by the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention have found out that about one out of a total of five gastroenteritis disease turns out to be caused by Norovirus. Annually, the count of the disease has been recorded to be around 685 million. And, the mortality rate of the children has added up to the count of 50,000 because of the virus. The primary symptom that is visible and can be used to identify the disease is diarrhoea. 

The first norovirus outbreak was recorded in Alappuzha this year. Nearly 950 cases have been recorded from the Alappuzza municipality. The district surveillance officer who led the investigation stated that the first recorded symptom among the children was diarrhoea spread in the coastal ward in the city. Even after initiating various control measures, it started laying in the panchayats. The outbreak lasted for one and a half months and was the first significant Norovirus outbreak in the state. 

After further investigation, it was found that there were houses where a sanitary latrine or a pit latrine was not available.

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When the stools of the infected people were collected and diagnosed for common faeces borne microorganisms, it showed negative for rotavirus, hepatitis-B virus and even enterovirus. Later, the stools were sent to the field units, and the RT-qPCR test was performed; it showed the presence of the Norovirus. The faecal contamination of the drinking water was indicated by the fact that there was coliform present in it. The virus ultimately entered the gastrointestinal passage through oral consumption. 

We can only prevent diseases if people are made aware of the causes of the disease, their symptoms, and the severity of the disease. The government in power’s responsibility is to ensure that every house has a proper sanitary facility. We should provide healthy drinking water to the people to put an end to the notorious disease.

Article Proofread and Edited by Shreedatri Banerjee

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