‘Cruise from hell’ Noro hits Australian cruise ship passengers

Passengers aboard a cruise ship bound for Fremantle say more than 100 people were struck down by a particularly violent bout of gastroenteritis.

The Sea Princess, a 15-deck ship operated by Princess Cruises, left Fremantle for Singapore on August 18 and is due back on Saturday.

vomit cruiseIt missed several stops because of a mechanical issue but passengers have been compensated for the changes.

But the norovirus outbreak on the ship led one passenger to call it “the cruise from hell”.

Another passenger, Burswood real estate agent Jim Edwards, 56, became ill about a week into the cruise and said it was the worst bout of gastroenteritis he had ever had.

He said at least 200 of the ship’s 2000 passengers had contracted the bug – double Princess Cruises’ estimate of 100.

“I couldn’t believe how strong it was,” he said.

“I’m only in my 50s but it took everything out of me and that’s why I was worried about the older people. It was knocking them down like flies.”

A Princess Cruises spokesman said more stringent sanitation procedures were implemented after the first few complaints.

Don’t touch that knob: Norovirus can spread around an entire building within just hours of contaminating one surface

A virus can spread around a whole building within two hours of coming into contact with just one surface, a new study has found, presented at the 54th Interscience Conference on Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy (ICAAC) in Washington.

knob.virusA team at the University of Arizona, Tucson found that when a virus, for example the Norovirus, contaminates a single doorknob or elevator button it spreads rapidly through entire office buildings, hotels or hospitals.

The team, led by microbiologist Charles Gerba, used bacteriophage MS-2 as a surrogate for the human Norovirus because it is similar in shape, size and resistance to disinfectants.

They placed it on a single commonly touched surface, such as a door knob or table, at the beginning of a day in office buildings, conference room and in a health care facility in Arizona.

They then tested surfaces capable of carrying infectious organisms, such as light switches, bed rails, table tops, countertops, coffee pots handles, sink tap handles, door knobs, phones and computer equipment for traces of the bacteriophage at various times between two and eight hours later.

The team found that up to 60 per cent of the surfaces sampled were contaminated with the virus within just two to four hours.

However, there is a simple solution for combating the spread, says Mr Gerba, who found using disinfecting wipes registered as effective against viruses like norovirus and flu, along with hand hygiene, reduced the spread by between 80 and 99 per cent.”

Mr Gerba concluded: “The results show that viral contamination of (surfaces) in facilities occurs quickly, and that a simple intervention can greatly help to reduce exposure to viruses.”

91 now sick from Norovirus suspected at UK pirate ship lake

A Norovirus outbreak saw a Devon holiday park temporarily close.

BTSKeithandJohnnyAWESeveral holidaymakers fell ill with suspected norovirus in the last fortnight. 

River Dart Country Park, in Ashburton, said that 91 cases of sickness and diarrhea had been reported by visitors to the outdoor activity resort since Friday, August 8.

Following an announcement that water tests were taking place, the park manager closed the site to allow “further investigation”. 

It was due to open today.

On Tuesday, managing director Mark Simpson issued a statement on the park’s website announcing he had made a decision to close the site after a discussion with the Environmental Health Agency and PHE.

I’ve been everywhere: Norovirus transmission between hands, gloves, utensils, and fresh produce during simulated food handling

Human noroviruses (HuNoVs), a leading cause of food-borne gastroenteritis worldwide, are easily transferred via ready-to-eat (RTE) foods, often prepared by infected food handlers.

mapsmaniaIn this study, the transmission of HuNoV and murine norovirus (MuNoV) from virus-contaminated hands to latex gloves during gloving, as well as from virus-contaminated donor surfaces to recipient surfaces after simulated preparation of cucumber sandwiches, was inspected. Virus transfer was investigated by swabbing with polyester swabs, followed by nucleic acid extraction from the swabs with a commercial kit and quantitative reverse transcription-PCR.

During gloving, transfer of MuNoV dried on the hand was observed 10/12 times. HuNoV, dried on latex gloves, was disseminated to clean pairs of gloves 10/12 times, whereas HuNoV without drying was disseminated 11/12 times. In the sandwich-preparing simulation, both viruses were transferred repeatedly to the first recipient surface (left hand, cucumber, and knife) during the preparation. Both MuNoV and HuNoV were transferred more efficiently from latex gloves to cucumbers (1.2% ± 0.6% and 1.5% ± 1.9%) than vice versa (0.7% ± 0.5% and 0.5% ± 0.4%). We estimated that transfer of at least one infective HuNoV from contaminated hands to the sandwich prepared was likely to occur if the hands of the food handler contained 3 log10 or more HuNoVs before gloving. Virus-contaminated gloves were estimated to transfer HuNoV to the food servings more efficiently than a single contaminated cucumber during handling. Our results indicate that virus-free food ingredients and good hand hygiene are needed to prevent HuNoV contamination of RTE foods.

American Society for Microbiology, Applied and Environmental Microbiology, Volume 80, No. 17, Septemper 2014, doi: 10.1128/AEM.01162-14

M. Rönnqvista, E. Ahoa, A. Mikkeläb, J. Rantab, P. Tuominenb, M. Rättöc and L. Maunulaa

http://aem.asm.org/content/80/17/5403.abstract?etoc

Why I don’t eat raw oysters: Norovirus genotypes implicated in two oyster-related illness outbreaks in Ireland

We investigated norovirus (NoV) concentrations and genotypes in oyster and faecal samples associated with two separate oyster-related outbreaks of gastroenteritis in Ireland. Quantitative analysis was performed using real-time quantitative reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction and phylogenetic analysis was conducted to establish the NoV genotypes present.

Raw oystersFor both outbreaks, the NoV concentration in oysters was >1000 genome copies/g digestive tissue and multiple genotypes were identified. In faecal samples, GII.13 was the only genotype detected for outbreak 1, whereas multiple genotypes were detected in outbreak 2 following the application of cloning procedures. While various genotypes were identified in oyster samples, not all were successful in causing infection in consumers. In outbreak 2 NoV GII.1 was identified in all four faecal samples analysed and NoV GII concentrations in faecal samples were >108 copies/g. This study demonstrates that a range of NoV genotypes can be present in highly contaminated oysters responsible for gastroenteritis outbreaks.

Epidemiology and Infection / Volume 142 / Issue 10 / October 2014, pp 2096-2104

P. RAJKO-NENOW, S. KEAVENEY, J. FLANNERY, A. McINTYR and W. DORÉ

http://journals.cambridge.org/action/displayAbstract?fromPage=online&aid=9320778&utm_source=Issue_Alert&utm_medium=RSS&utm_campaign=HYG&utm_reader=feedly

Over 1000 sick from Norovirus at four Finland beaches

The City of Tampere has announced on its web-page that its officials have removed the signs advising people against swimming in the four lakes linked to a recent outbreak of a stomach virus – Tohloppijärvi, Tesomajärvi, Suolijärvi and Kaukajärvi.

norovirus.swimOverall, over one thousand people fell ill with a stomach bug in Tampere. The city also revealed on Tuesday that traces of norovirus were found in the majority of stool samples taken from the affected swimmers.

Traces of Norovirus found in Finish patients’ tests

The first laboratory tests of fecal samples from individuals who went swimming around Tampere have yielded signs that the virus remains present in local waterways.  

norovirus-2Patient specimens were obtained from a total of 18 people, 15 of whose tests showed positive for the virus.

Tampere city’s Environmental Health Director Merja Bojang says that this indicates that the norovirus has spread though bathers from one beach to another.

Tampere City authorities want to identify the causes and consequences of the epidemic, which causes an upset stomach. The city website now hosts an online form inviting feedback from visitors to Tampere beaches between July 21 and August 6 – both those who remained healthy and those who fell ill.

They also hope to hear back from respondents who have earlier used the form or the telephone service to log details of their illness. It’s hoped that each individual would fill out their own form.

The electronic questionnaire can be answered until Friday, August 22.

Australian swimmer has gastro, just 24 hours out from the Commonwealth Games opening

A member of the Australian swim team has contracted the Norovirus after more than 50 staff members at Commonwealth Games athletes’ village have been affected by the highly contagious virus otherwise known as gastro.

286783-fee89b38-00cc-11e4-a9df-6cbc2a380379Despite the Games press manager Andrew McMenamin insisting that athletes should not be alarmed, saying the bug had been contained to security personnel, at least one Australian athlete has presented with symptoms and has been quarantined.

200 sick: Lake in Washington suspected for Norovirus outbreak

A mysterious intestinal ailment that struck down about 200 people who swam in a Washington lake has pushed officials to shut down access to the lake.

Horseshoe_Lake_Exley_Falls_t470The swimmers who enjoyed a summer weekend at Horseshoe Lake have been reporting symptoms of nausea, cramps and diarrhea, officials said.

The officials suspect a norovirus may be the culprit but are awaiting test results.

In the meantime the popular Horseshoe Lake County Park swimming site has been closed to vacationers until further notice, they say, and warning signs have been posted on the lake shoreline.

“Although there is no laboratory confirmation of a specific virus or bacteria responsible for the illnesses at this time, Public Health and Kitsap County are issuing the temporary closure as a precautionary measure while they investigate and to protect the public and prevent any additional illnesses,” the county public health district said [pdf] in a statement.

The county park is apparently the only area on the lake affected so far, officials said.

100 sick: Norovirus outbreak linked to Eagle Island in Idaho

Patient samples from a recent outbreak of illness at Eagle Island State Park have tested positive for norovirus, the Central District Health Department said in a news release Wednesday afternoon.

Eagle Island State ParkMore than 100 cases of vomiting and diarrhea were reported to CDHD this Monday and Tuesday, prompting the Idaho Department of Parks and Recreation to close the swimming area at Eagle Island. Park staff is working with CDHD and DEQ to lower lake levels and thoroughly disinfect impacted facilities.

The swimming areas at Eagle Island will remain closed for two weeks to allow for drainage and refill of the lake. All other areas at the park will remain open for recreational use.

Norovirus is the most common cause of sudden-onset vomiting and diarrhea, CDHD reports.