Just when you thought it was safe to step out of the house and be social, a new strain of a disease dubbed the norovirus is spreading worldwide.
On Wednesday, a new strain of the winter vomiting disease has spread to France, New Zealand and Japan from Australia and is soon making its move in Britain, health officials said. The variant known as Sydney 2012 was identified in a scientific paper last week and Britain’s Health Protection Agency (HPA) said genetic testing showed evidence of infection throughout England and Wales, says the Baltimore Sun.
Although norovirus usually only affects the victim for a few days, it is responsible for millions of infections every year and is notorious for the way it evades medication and preventive methods. In the United States, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention state norovirus causes 21 million illnesses a year, a third of which require hospitalization, while hundreds of which end in death.
According to FOX News, there was a dip in reported norovirus cases over the Christmas period, as predicted, but with 4,000 plus cases so far in England and Wales, infections are still over 50 percent higher than they were at this point in 2011. David Brown, director of the virology reference department states:
“The emergence of a new strain does not mean that it causes more serious illness, and managing outbreaks and those with the illness remains the same. Noroviruses mutate rapidly and new strains are constantly emerging. At the start of the season it is normal for outbreaks to be caused by a range of different strains. However, as the season progresses, particular strains are more successful and become dominant.”
There is no known method to treat norovirus infection other than to let the illness take its course and drink plenty of water. Symptoms should subside after two days.