From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :
Prelims level : Norovirus
Mains level : Not Much
The Kerala Health Department confirmed two cases of the gastrointestinal infection norovirus in class 1 students in Ernakulam district.
What is Norovirus?
- Norovirus is an important cause of acute non-bacterial gastroenteritis in children as well as adults worldwide.
- It leads to diarrhoea, vomiting, nausea, and abdominal pain. Being a diarrhoeal disease, it can lead to dehydration, so drinking plenty of fluids is recommended.
- The virus was first discovered in connection with an outbreak of acute diarrhoeal disease in Norwalk, Ohio, in 1968 and was called the Norwalk Virus.
- Later, several stomach flu viruses closely linked to the Norwalk virus were found and together, these are now called Noroviruses.
- Many stomach flu outbreaks typically in cruise ships have been traced to NoV.
How deadly is this?
- Norovirus is not new; it has been circulating among humans for over 50 years and is thought to be one of the primary causes of gastroenteritis.
- The virus is estimated to kill 200,000 persons globally every year, with most deaths occurring among those below the age of five years and those over the age of 65 years.
- The virus is capable of surviving low temperatures, and outbreaks tend to be more common during the winter and in colder countries — that is why it is sometimes referred to as “winter vomiting disease”.
What is the incidence of infection in India?
- Cases of norovirus are not as common in India as in many other places — at the same time.
- The infection has been reported in previous years as well, mainly from Southern India, and especially from Kerala.
- A 2021 study from Hyderabad reported that norovirus was detected in 10.3% samples of children who came in with acute gastroenteritis.
Can norovirus infection cause a large-scale outbreak?
- Even though more cases of norovirus are being detected, experts say that this is unlikely to lead to a large-scale outbreak.
- There is no epidemiological study to co-relate of these cases.
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