Norovirus causes severe diarrhea and vomiting. This winter, however, a particularly large number of people fall ill with the nasty virus. The reason for this is a new norovirus variant.
Noroviruses are in high season in winter. But this year the norovirus wave is particularly fierce. According to studies, the strong spread of noroviruses this winter is related to a new viral variant. This has been detected in sporadic infections as well as in outbreaks in nine German states, report experts from Berlin's Robert Koch Institute (RKI) in the latest epidemiological bulletin. They had examined 240 samples from 13 states more closely from September to December last year.
In total, about 40 to 50 percent of these norovirus illnesses were caused by the new virus type GII.P16-GII.2 back. It has also been found in other countries such as France, Australia, Japan and China.
The norovirus can cause severe diarrhea and vomiting. Relatively high levels with more than 5000 cases reported weekly nationwide had already been observed before Christmas.
In the first four weeks of 2017, according to the report, a total of about 13.700 diseases registered in Germany. This is almost twice as many as in the same period last year. However, by no means all cases are reported.
The new norovirus is insidious
Experts had already suspected a new variant behind this development some time ago. However, the virus is no more dangerous than usual. "It can only hide better from the immune system, so more people get sick," an RKI spokeswoman said recently. According to the Institute, it is also normal for the norovirus to be more prevalent in some years than others.
The disease is highly contagious, so it can spread quickly in daycare centers and nursing homes, for example. Because patients lose a lot of fluid, infection can be dangerous, especially for young children, the elderly and the weak.
What you can do against the norovirus
The norovirus is extremely contagious. Above all, it is transmitted from person to person through contaminated hands.
The Department of Health and Environment (RGU) has registered a rapid increase in reports of vomiting diarrhea in Munich in November. In order to prevent further epidemics, the city of Munich now warns against the pathogen in a press release. And gives tips on how Munich residents can protect themselves from norovirus infection.
1. Washing hands is the top priority
Hand washing: To prevent infection with noroviruses, absolute hygiene is important. To prevent the virus from spreading further, sick people should wash their hands thoroughly. Washing hands is also important to prevent infection with noroviruses. The virus can, for example, stick to door handles, subway handles and light switches, warns the city of Munich.
Hands should therefore be washed thoroughly with soap several times a day, including the thumbs and between fingers.
– After spending time in public areas – Before preparing food – After going to the toilet – After possible contact with stool – After contact with vomit
2. Stay at home in case of norovirus illness
Sick people should avoid crowds, stay home. Affected people should not go to work and are not allowed to enter community facilities such as schools and daycare centers.
3. Cure properly
Sick persons should absolutely cure the disease and go back to work only when they have no more symptoms.
Children should stay at home for at least two days after a norovirus infection and not attend their daycare or toddler group, the city recommends.
The reasonChildren in particular continue to excrete noro viruses for several days after falling ill. Transmission can hardly be prevented in daycare centers. In addition, infants and young children are a major risk group due to rapid dehydration and electrolyte imbalances.
4.Drink plenty of fluids
To compensate for the loss of fluids during diarrhea with vomiting, those affected must drink plenty of fluids. In addition, the loss of salts can be compensated by taking electrolyte solutions from the pharmacy.