Norovirus sucks; here’s what it does to the body

It’s the perfect human pathogen.

A 2015 CDC report on noro burden by Ben Lopeman describes the virus as “ubiquitous, associated with 18% (95% CI: 17-20%) of diarrheal disease globally, with similar proportions of disease in high- middle- and low- income settings. Norovirus is estimated to cause approxi­mately 200,000 deaths annually worldwide, with 70,000 or more among children in developing countries.”10849902_719581291471357_3442145704847569295_n1-300x3001-300x300

Express describes what happens when the virus infects.

The viral particles hit the stomach first, but it is only when they travel into the small intestine that the virus begins to multiply.

It enters the cells lining the intestine, making copies of itself and then the cells die, release more virus particles, and the process is repeated.

The immune system recognises that cells are ‘dying’ and as an immune response, antibodies travel to the small intestine and deactivate the virus. Experts say this is when the body will start to feel the effects of the virus – such as fever and nausea.

The virus causes the gut to become inflamed or irritated – which leads to vomiting and watery diarrhoea. This, medics say, is the body’s way of fighting the infection and trying to clear it from the body.


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About Ben Chapman

Dr. Ben Chapman is a professor and food safety extension specialist at North Carolina State University. As a teenager, a Saturday afternoon viewing of the classic cable movie, Outbreak, sparked his interest in pathogens and public health. With the goal of less foodborne illness, his group designs, implements, and evaluates food safety strategies, messages, and media from farm-to-fork. Through reality-based research, Chapman investigates behaviors and creates interventions aimed at amateur and professional food handlers, managers, and organizational decision-makers; the gate keepers of safe food. Ben co-hosts a biweekly podcast called Food Safety Talk and tries to further engage folks online through Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and, maybe not surprisingly, Pinterest. Follow on Twitter @benjaminchapman.