Tuesday November 12, 2019

Stomach Virus Creates Headache for Olympic Officials

More than 100 people have come down with the dreaded stomach bug, and South Korean Olympic organizers quarantined more than 1,000 workers after some tested positive for it

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The norovirus can also be passed on through contaminated food and water, if the person handling it has the virus, or gets faecal matter on the food or in a drink. Wikimedia Commons
The norovirus can also be passed on through contaminated food and water, if the person handling it has the virus, or gets faecal matter on the food or in a drink. Wikimedia Commons

A norovirus at the Pyeongchang Olympics means athletes might have more to worry about than just going for the gold.

More than 100 people have come down with the dreaded stomach bug, and South Korean Olympic organizers quarantined more than 1,000 workers after some tested positive for it.

The organizers called in police officers to take over from the quarantined workers after some tested positive for the norovirus, which causes nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea.

Dr Cynthia Sears, an infectious disease expert at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, spoke to VOA by Skype.

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“Norovirus is a virus that’s exceptionally contagious. It can be spread by simply touching surfaces,” she said.

Norovirus can survive for days or even weeks on a variety of surfaces. And, Sears says, it only takes a small amount of the virus to infect someone.

The virus spreads quickly between people, especially in close quarters like cruise ships and nursing homes. Wikimedia Commons
The virus spreads quickly between people, especially in close quarters like cruise ships and nursing homes. Wikimedia Commons

“It can be spread by vomiting because it can aerosolize to some extent. People can pick up enough that way,” she said. “It can be spread through the stool (faecal matter) if you accidentally get a few faeces on something.”

The virus spreads quickly between people, especially in close quarters like cruise ships and nursing homes. It can spread wherever there are crowds.

The norovirus can also be passed on through contaminated food and water, if the person handling it has the virus, or gets faecal matter on the food or in a drink.

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Symptoms normally last for a few days, but afterwards, the sickness causes fatigue.

The antidote is cleanliness. If food preparation surfaces are disinfected and the food is cooked thoroughly, the virus’s ability to survive is reduced.

The best defence is lots of handwashing and disinfecting any surfaces that might be contaminated, especially kitchens and bathrooms, and keeping your fingers away from your face. (VOA)

Next Story

Scientists Discover New HIV Strain After Nearly 2 Decades

In order to utilise this technology, Abbott scientists had to develop and apply new techniques to help narrow in on the virus portion of the sample to fully sequence and complete the genome

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Since the beginning of the global AIDS pandemic, 75 million people have been infected with HIV and 37.9 million people day are living with the virus. Pixabay

A team of scientists at pharmaceutical major Abbott has identified a new subtype of the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV), called HIV-1 Group M, subtype L.

The discovery marks the first time a new subtype of HIV-1 has been identified since 2000.

The findings, published in the Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes (JAIDS), show the role next-generation genome sequencing is playing in helping researchers stay one step ahead of mutating viruses and avoiding new pandemics.

Since the beginning of the global AIDS pandemic, 75 million people have been infected with HIV and 37.9 million people day are living with the virus.

“In an increasingly connected world, we can no longer think of viruses being contained to one location,” said Carole McArthur, Pofessor at University of Missouri, Kansas City, and one of the study authors.

Group M viruses are responsible for the global pandemic, which can be traced back to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) in Sub-Saharan Africa.

To determine whether an unusual virus is in fact a new HIV subtype, three cases must be discovered independently.

The first two samples of this subtype were discovered in the DRC in the 1980s and the 1990s. The third, collected in 2001, was difficult to be sequenced at that time because of the amount of virus in the sample and the existing technology.

Today, next-generation sequencing technology allows researchers to build an entire genome at higher speeds and lower costs.

HIV
To determine whether an unusual virus is in fact a new HIV subtype, three cases must be discovered independently. Pixabay

In order to utilise this technology, Abbott scientists had to develop and apply new techniques to help narrow in on the virus portion of the sample to fully sequence and complete the genome.

“Identifying new viruses such as this one is like searching for a needle in a haystack,” said Mary Rodgers, a principal scientist and head of the Global Viral Surveillance Program, Diagnostics, Abbott, and one of the study authors.

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“By advancing our techniques and using next generation sequencing technology, we are pulling the needle out with a magnet. This scientific discovery can help us ensure that we are stopping new pandemics in their tracks.” (IANS)