New strain of norovirus wreaks havoc : ACEP NEWS

English: Norovirus particles

English: Norovirus particles (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A very common problem in emergency, urgent and primary care..

"A new strain of norovirus, identified last March in Australia, has swept through the United States, causing more than half of the 2012 outbreaks."...

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"The virus is highly transmissible; exposure to as few as 18 viral particles can cause illness, according to a presentation by Jan Vinj Ph.D., head of the National Calicivirus Laboratory. And since about 30% of cases are asymptomatic, the transmission rate can be extremely high.

"These are the two characteristics that explain why norovirus is such a serious public health challenge," Dr. Hall said. "It takes a very tiny amount of exposure to make someone sick, and someone who is sick is shedding billions of viral particles. They can shed virus without any symptoms, so they don't know they have it and there's no way to advise them about how to avoid spreading it."

The illness is characterized by vomiting and/or diarrhea with abdominal cramps and low-grade fever. Most patients recover within 12-72 hours, but about 10% need hospitalization and fluid therapy. Severe illness and/or death are most common among the elderly and people with chronic illnesses.

The United States sees about 21 million cases annually; 800 will result in death. A norovirus outbreak can overwhelm local medical resources; the virus causes nearly 2 million outpatient visits and 400,000 emergency department visits each year. The combined annual cost reaches $2 billion, according to the CDC."

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New strain of norovirus wreaks havoc : ACEP NEWS.

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