NEW research could lead to a serious reduction in gastro outbreaks in aged care facilities, hospital wards and schools.
Scientists will aim to learn more about the virus, including how long a person remains contagious after symptoms cease.
Norovirus is common around the world and is responsible for the majority of gastroenteritis outbreaks, with around 700 million people and 1.8 million Australians contracting the illness each year.
Jill Carr from Flinders University is leading world-first research in a bid to find out how shedded norovirus materials behave, their ability to cause infection and the impact of disinfectants on the resilient virus.
“It’s only in the past two years that technology has enabled us to develop live norovirus cultures in the lab,” Associate professor Carr said.
“Before then, researchers have only been able to make assumptions on this unique virus based on those with similar attributes.”
Although most patients in the developed world recover fairly quickly from the illness and return to school or work within a day or two of feeling better, it is believed they may continue to shed the virus for weeks or even months.
Vulnerable people, including the elderly and those with compromised immune systems are at risk of more severe illness and longer recovery times.
The study will adapt the method of growing cells from the gut and infecting them with norovirus, which was developed by the South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute.
It will utilise new technology to screen large quantities of samples.
“We know people will continue to shed the virus for some time after their illness, but we do not know how infectious these particles are,” Associate professor Carr said.
For more information on research being conducted at Flinders University, click here.