PROTECTING OURSELVES FROM THE NOROVIRUS

           Particle of the norovirus  (In their Easter bonnets?)

from The Ohio State University College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences, Media Advisory     February 27, 2012

Ohio State University food safety experts are issuing warnings about outbreaks of the norovirus in Central Ohio and in other areas of States.  The virus, responsible for 58% of all cases, is the leading cause of foodborne disease in the US.

It’s an extremely stable virus, especially in winter months.  It survives on surfaces or foods even after standard disinfection procedures are used.  The infectious dose is low—as few as 18-1,000 viral particles can cause infection.

Qiuhong Wang is a research scientist and adjunct assistant professor in the Food Animal Health Research Program (FAHRP) at the Wooster station.  He’s part of a team studying the stability of noroviruses on leafy greens and their potential modes of transmission to humans.

To lessen the chance of contracting the norovirus, Wang has three suggestions:

1)  Wash hands thoroughly, at least 20 seconds.  The procedure is important to prevent foodborne illness, but also to decrease the risk of person-to-person transmission—which occurs not only during illness but for one to three weeks after an infected person’s symptoms subside.

Wang points out that 20% of norovirus-infected people don’t show symptoms but still can spread the virus to others.

2)  Cooking kills the norovirus and other pathogens.  Avoid raw produce, particularly if you belong to an at-risk group:  the elderly, young children and people with cancer  or other diseases or chronic conditions.

3)  Avoid lettuce pre-washed in the handy, ready-for-the-salad-bowl bags.  Buy a whole head of lettuce and rinse leaves thoroughly when leafy greens will be eaten raw.  The more leafy greens are handled and processed before we consume them, the more opportunity there is for norovirus contamination.

Wang and his team are working in collaboration with a local company to develop a more effective disinfectant and hand sanitizer for norovirus.

The team is also working in conjunction with K O Chang of Kansas State University to develop antivirals to human norovirus.  

Go team, go!

My Take on the warnings:  I add white vinegar to the basin of water in which I wash or scrub my fresh fruits and vegetables.  The vinegar changes the pH (acid-base balance) of the water to a level that kills or at least weakens many pathogens.

Rinsing in water is cheaper and more effective than spraying vinegar water from a spray bottle.

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2 responses to “PROTECTING OURSELVES FROM THE NOROVIRUS

  1. I have been washing all vegetables in apple cider vinegar since ‘time immemorial’ and I would advise rinsing in a pure a.c. vinegar bath. It kills just about everything ‘alive’ on the leaves and actually tenderizes the tougher greens and gives them a ‘sweeter’ taste. It doesn’t hurt to dip your fingers in the a.c.v. also to catch any bacteria or virus on your hands.

    • Leon–an excellent suggestion about dipping the fingers in the solution. I always wear gloves when I wash stuff because the solutions are a little rough on my hands. Thanks.

      Carole

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