A new strain of norovirus, known as Sydney 2012, has quickly spread to France, New Zealand, Japan, and the United States.
The BBC News Health reports that the norovirus variant began in Australia and its presence in the United Kingdom was identified by the Health Protection Agency, which carries out genetic testing on all types of virus seen in England and Wales.
University of Cambridge Professor Ian Goodfellow, who has studied norovirus for 10 years, describes the new strain as the “the Ferrari of the virus world” and “one of the most infectious viruses of man.”
Forbes reports the new strain is causing cases in nursing homes and churches and other public areas throughout Utah.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, norovirus causes 21 million illnesses a year in the U.S. and contributes to about 70,000 hospitalizations and 800 deaths. It is highly contagious and one can get norovirus from an infected person, contaminated food or water, or by touching contaminated surfaces.
Symptoms of norovirus include vomiting, diarrhea, nausea, stomach pain, fever, headache, and body aches.
To prevent norovirus infection, CDC advises people to practice proper hand hygiene; wash and cook foods thoroughly; clean and disinfect contaminated surfaces at home; and wash laundry thoroughly.
There is no specific medicine to treat people with norovirus illness. Norovirus infection cannot be treated with antibiotics because it is a viral infection. People infected by norovirus should drink plenty of liquids to replace fluid lost from throwing up and diarrhea.