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What is a norovirus?

An Infection with noroviruses causes gastroenteritis, a gastrointestinal inflammation in humans. The insidious thing about this virus is that it continually changes its genome, making a universal treatment impossible. The virus exists worldwide, and is responsible for 30 percent of non-bacterial intestinal infections in children and 50 percent in adults.

How is the Norovirus transmitted?

The norovirus is contagious only to humans. Infected persons excrete the viruses in their stool or in vomit. Contact with excrements poses a high risk of infection for others. A minimum quantity of 10 to 100 virus particles is sufficient to cause illness. The simple transmission from person to person via direct contact, or via virus-containing droplets in the air following projectile vomiting, results in the rapid spread of the virus – particularly in nursing homes, hospitals, and community facilities. The pathogens can also be found on door handles, washroom fittings, or other everyday objects, and they are transferred into the mouth via the hands. Raw food or unclean water can also be contaminated with the pathogens and lead to infection.

What are symptoms of the disease?

The incubation period of a norovirus infection is 6 to 50 hours. Symptoms including diarrhoea, nausea and vomiting appear very suddenly. Sick people are highly contagious. The considerable loss of fluid can lead to dehydration. Other symptoms are abdominal pain, headache, muscle pain, and fatigue. After approx. 12 to 48 hours, the symptoms subside, because most pathogens have been eliminated after this time. The norovirus can still be detected in the stool 7 to 14 days after the acute disease phase, which is why hygiene measures are also necessary afterwards.

Significance for infections in hospitals and in the outpatient sector

Noroviruses are among the pathogens that must be reported in Germany, and they lead the annual reporting statistics. They are also the main cause of outbreaks in hospitals.

Survival time of pathogens on inanimate surfaces

8 hours to 7 days

Disinfectant effectiveness for prevention

The necessary spectrum of activity against noroviruses is: limited virucidal PLUS or virucidal

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