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Sydney Strain of the Norovirus Bulldozing the U.S.

Recently, the Norovirus made its way back into the news. With more frequent cases occurring this year, researchers have identified a new strain of the virus that has been causing havoc globally and has now settled itself in the U.S. The GII.4 Norovirus strain, called the Sydney strain after its point of origin in Australia, has created another violent winter illness for populations to deal with. With an already explosive flu season, the United States has seen a 39% increase in Norovirus cases between September and December of 2012. Each year the Norovirus is responsible for causing 21 million illnesses and 800 deaths per the CDC. Recently, the Norovirus outbreak in California made headlines, accompanied by an experiment, complete with projectile vomiting mannequin, that demonstrated how easily the virus is spread. The Norovirus is easily spread through food handling by workers who do not practice proper hand washing; Norovirus is responsible for most cases of food poisoning. It is also spread very easily by airborne particles from vomiting and contaminated surface areas. The Norovirus in general is most dangerous to children and the elderly, causing severe, continuous vomiting and diarrhea that lasts for days. It is quickly and easily spread in groups of people; responsible for sickening 220 people on The Queen Mary cruise lines touring the Caribbean just last month. One prominent researcher describes it as the “Ferrari of viruses” due to its quick spread, stating also “You can be feeling quite fine one minute and within several hours suffer continuous vomiting and diarrhea." Hope is not lost. Proper hygiene techniques, regular hand washing, and disinfection can help hinder the spread. Tools used for flu prevention can also be helpful in combating Norovirus. Using antibacterial wipes, face masks, and gloves when necessary can keep you healthy, and productive. Staying home when sick and refraining from food preparation also help prevent the virus’ spread. Between the flu and the Sydney strain of Norovirus, our country is seeing a massive winter illness season. Keep your family virus free by following proper hygiene and prevention techniques. Sources: Huffington Post - Healthy Living - ABC News - Health - Medical News Today -  
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