Just last week, an outbreak of norovirus was suspected in causing approximately 200 students at a Montana elementary school to become sick. The illness caused almost half of the school’s students to stay home sick in a single day. Large outbreaks like these occur on a frequent basis.
In the United States, the CDC estimates that more than 21 million cases of acute gastroenteritis are due to norovirus infections each year. Noroviruses are a group of related, single-stranded RNA, non-enveloped viruses that cause acute gastroenteritis in humans.
Noroviruses are transmitted primarily through the fecal-oral route, either by consumption of fecally contaminated food or water or by direct person-to-person spread. Environmental and fomite contamination may also act as a source of infection. Evidence exists for transmission due to aerosolization of vomitus that presumably results in droplets contaminating surfaces or entering the oral mucosa and being swallowed.
“Noroviruses are highly contagious, as few as 10 viral particles may be sufficient to infect an individual,”
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