Norovirus is a mutating virus that makes it difficult to fight. The human body is not able to develop immunity because of the mutative properties of the virus. As such, it is a virus that can make the same person ill over and again, and since it is highly contagious, most adults will have had it more than once in life. According to an NBC News report, as many as 21 million Americans get sickened by Norovirus every year, out of about 350 million! As February comes to a close, Norovirus hits peak season.
Norovirus brings on intense pain, vomiting and diarrhea, but usually only lasts 12 to 36 hours (it can last a week). It is one of the more short-lived of food borne pathogens, but still hospitalizes 70,000 Americans each year, killing about 800. Most of the fatalities have a separate underlying medical condition, such as a compromised immune system. In addition to getting Norovirus in contaminated food, people can acquire Norovirus by shaking hands, touching a contaminated door handle, or doing the laundry. In each case, it has to be introduced into the body, however, so careful hand washing and avoidance of touching your face or mouth can help prevent the spread of the virus.
Why is Norovirus so Contagious?
A person can become ill from ingesting as few as 5-20 microscopic viral particles – and a single episode of vomiting can release a million. By way of reference, if a person vomits from Norovirus, the airborne virus particles can infect 300 more people in a close-packed environment.
In addition, the particles can be shaken or fall onto other surfaces during clean-up, and can survive at room temperature for extended periods of time – we are talking months on a door handle, steering wheel, or cell phone. It outlasts the flu (a couple of hours), HIV (dies almost immediately), or bacterium like Salmonella or E. coli (these can last a week or so). They can also live on human hands, and withstand even the brief application of hand sanitizing or hand-washing that is not vigorous and lasts for a full 30 seconds.
Original sources of Norovirus are too plentiful to recount, but a common one is raw oysters, raw vegetables, and under-cooked meats. And while it can be acquired at any time of the year, Norovirus hits peak season between at mid to late February. The traditional season begins in late October and goes through April.
What is Norovirus?
It is, basically, protein and RNA, and is only about one 27-millionth of a meter in length. Depending on the amount you ingest, the effects can be felt within one to six hours. If you ingest as little as 10 particles, you may have as many as 10 billion parts per gram in your fecal matter within 12 hours.
To talk to a food borne-illness attorney, call 1-888-335-4901. The attorneys at Ron Simon & Associates have represented victims in many Norovirus outbreaks.