In episode 65 of MicrobeWorld Video, Dr. Stan Maloy talks with Natalie Prystajecky Ph.D., Environmental Public Health Microbiologist, BCCDC Public Health Microbiology and Reference Laboratory, about her work with norovirus. This episode was filmed at the American Association for the Advancement of Science Meeting in Vancouver, Canada on February 16th, 2012.

Norovirus is the leading cause of acute gastroenteritis in the world. In the U.S. norovirus accounts for up to sixty percent of all gastrointestinal related illness representing approximately twenty-three million cases annually.

Because norovius is easily transmitted from person to person, outbreaks such as the kind that occur on cruise ships, airplanes and universities are common news. New technologies such as real-time PCR have led to more effective techniques for diagnosing the virus and thus the appearance of more cases of norovirus.

However, according to Prystajecky, cases of norovirus have been decreasing since their peak in 2003. The number of acute illnesses related to norovirus rise when new strains emerge such as the GII.4 strain in late 2009.

Beyond person to person transmission, norovirus has the ability to spread via food and waterborne sources. In every case using proper food handling techniques, being aware of your food and water source and proper hand washing (soap and water) are all effective measures for avoiding the virus.

There are no current vaccines against norovirus.

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