Friday, October 21, 2011

Norovirus stays infective for months in water

Transmission electron micrograph of Norovirus particles in feces. (Graham Colm, Wikipedia Commons.)

From Science Daily:

Researchers from Emory University have discovered that norovirus in groundwater can remain infectious for at least 61 days. The research is published in the October Applied and Environmental Microbiology.

Human norovirus is the most common cause of acute gastroenteritis.The disease it causes tends to be one of the more unpleasant of those that leave healthy people unscathed in the long run, with diarrhea and vomiting that typically last for 48 hours. Norovirus sickens one in 15 Americans annually, causing 70,000 hospitalizations, and more than 500 deaths annually, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The results answer a question of great importance to public health, which had driven researcher Christine Moe and her colleagues to conduct this research: If well water becomes contaminated with noroviruses--perhaps from leaking sewer lines or a septic tank -- how long do these noroviruses survive in water, and when would it be safe to drink from that well?

Read the full article in Science Daily.

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