Norovirus Superbug

Norovirus Superbug

Recent research has shed light on the highly infectious nature of norovirus and rotavirus pathogens, noting the viruses are transmitted in membrane-covered packages that render them all but immune to conventional chemical and UV disinfection methods.

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Clustered Norovirus Superbugs

Worldwide, norovirus and rotavirus are responsible for hundreds of millions of cases of gastroenteritis and diarrhea in children under 5 each year, resulting in several hundred million hospitalizations and tens of thousands of deaths.

A rotavirus vaccination for children introduced in the U.S. in 2006 is largely credited for the significant decline in infant infections and mortality associated with the disease.

Until recently, medical scientists believed these pathogens were transmitted as individual particles, referred to as virions.

However, recent research has challenged this understanding with the discovery of widespread membrane-coated clusters.

According to a 2018 article published by the National Institutes of Health;

The researchers studied norovirus and rotavirus–hard-to-treat viruses that are the most common cause of stomach illness, or gastroenteritis, and that afflicts millions of people each year.

The viruses cause symptoms ranging from diarrhea to abdominal pain and can sometimes result in death, particularly among young children and the elderly.

Their highly contagious nature has led to serious outbreaks in crowded spaces throughout many communities; most notably in cruise ships, daycare centers, classrooms, and nursing homes.

NIH researchers discover highly infectious vehicle for transmission of viruses among humans

Additionally, further research has shown these viral clusters to be resilient to temperature variations, detergent decomposition (chemical cleaning and disinfection), and UV disinfection.

In this study, we have demonstrated that vesicle-cloaked murine norovirus (MNV-1) clusters were highly persistent under temperature variation (i.e., freeze–thaw) and they were partially resistant to detergent decomposition.

MNV-1 vesicles were 1.89–3.17-fold more infectious in vitro than their free virus counterparts.

Most importantly, MNV-1 vesicles were up to 2.16-times more resistant to UV254 disinfection than free MNV-1 at a low viral load in vitro.

Interestingly, with the increase of the viral load, free MNV-1 and MNV-1 vesicles showed equivalent resistance to UV254 disinfection.

Emerging Pathogenic Unit of Vesicle-Cloaked Murine Norovirus Clusters is Resistant to Environmental Stresses and UV254 Disinfection


Preventing Norovirus in Public Spaces

The norovirus is highly contagious and can be transmitted in several ways, including:

  • Direct contact with a contaminated person.
  • Consumption of contaminated food or water, and;
  • Touching contaminated surfaces and then placing your unwashed hand in your mouth.

Symptoms include:

  • Diarrhea.
  • Vomiting.
  • Nausea, and;
  • Stomach pain.

While concerns regarding the efficacy of ultraviolet disinfection were raised as a result of the studies investigating the nature of norovirus clusters, it is notable to mention that the clusters were listed as only 'partially resilient' to detergent disinfectants.

Those findings, as they stand, bode well for established preventative and avoidance methods, including:

  • Practicing proper hand hygiene, including washing after using the restroom or changing a diaper, before eating, preparing food, or administering medicine.
  • Avoiding contact with others when you are sick or showing symptoms, and avoiding contact with people you know to be sick or who appear to be showing symptoms as much as possible.
  • Clean and disinfect contaminated surfaces immediately using products from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agencies' List G.
  • Routinely clean and sanitize surfaces throughout occupied spaces in your home or public facility with commercial-grade soap-based detergents, and disinfect fomites throughout the day as necessary, and;
  • Wash contaminated laundry in hot water, as applicable, immediately to avoid further spread.



References & Resources



Norovirus, a notoriously contagious and deadly virus, might be worse than we thought.

Recent research has shed some light on the nature of the virus, how it spreads, why it is so difficult to control, and what we can do in the future to combat its spread.

As with most pathogens, in place of the availability of a vaccine, a combination of preventative and avoidance measures is recommended.

Depending on the scope and scale of the contamination, outsourcing your facility's infection prevention and control needs to an experienced provider is advisable to ensure the health and safety of all facility occupants and the rapid decontamination of your building's public spaces.

Contact us today and discover why Vanguard Cleaning Systems® is the Standard of Clean® for businesses throughout Northwest Arkansas, Missouri, and Oklahoma.

In Oklahoma, dial 918-960-4450

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