A new strain of gastro that we have no resistance to has hit Australia 1



View Profile
Closeup portrait old business woman, elderly boss, corporate worker, unhealthy grandmother doubling over in stomach pain, isolated white background. Human emotions, facial expressions. Acute abdomen

There is nothing worse than a case of gastro – acute nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea, transmitted through coming into contact with infected faeces or vomit, person-to-person, through contaminated food or water, or touching a contaminated surface, like a toilet.

A new strain of the virus that causes gastro has been identified to have its roots in Australia, particularly in Victoria, and the researchers behind the discovery warn it could soon become an epidemic, or even a pandemic.

This strain of norovirus – the most common cause of gastroenteritis – was first detected at a very low frequency in Victoria in August last year but resurfaced in a slightly altered form in June. Experts fear this slight change means it could skip around herd immunity.

Using 14 years of surveillance data from Victoria, the scientists who made the discovery say this strain has the potential to become a pandemic in two to seven months.

The discovery was made by the Royal Melbourne Hospital’s Victorian Infectious Diseases Reference Laboratory at the Doherty Institute, and will be published today in the  European journal Eurosurveillance.

Speaking to ABC News, Dr Mike Catton, the director of the Victorian Infectious Diseases Reference Laboratory and the co-deputy director of the Doherty Institute, said because it was a new strain of the virus, very few people would be immune.

“Noroviruses are so infectious that when a significant new strain emerges it tends to go global and be a worldwide phenomenon.

“We think it is a major reshuffle of the genetic information of that virus, something that nobody in the community would be immune to and therefore we have a risk of a potential sizeable outbreak.”

“We call it a two bucket virus because it’s diarrhoea and vomiting and you’d certainly feel unwell while you’ve got it,” Dr Catton said.

“Generally it’s a pretty brief disease for most people,” Dr Catton said.

“The peak infectious [period] continues for a day or two after that and that’s why the advice for cases is to not prepare food or to go to their work as a healthcare worker or as a childcare workers.”

There is no drug or vaccine to prevent the virus, so Dr Catton said hygiene, especially hand washing, would be vital.

For most people, the vomiting and diarrhoea symptoms would be expected to last between one and two days.

But the elderly, young or immuno-compromised would be at greater risk.

Share your thoughts below.

Starts at 60 Writers

The Starts at 60 writers team seek out interesting topics and write them especially for you.

  1. Despite being extremely careful when it comes to hand washing and sanitising hand washes, almost to the point of being neurotic, my husband on a cruise a year or two ago got a dose of gastro! It was said to be Noro on the ship. We reported to the Sick Bay, and he was quarantined to out suite until his symptoms had completely gone, which wasn’t very long at all, and he did have a mild case. This was a Holland America Line cruise, they are so good, wouldn’t really want to go with another cruise line, and yes he did receive a credit for the days he was quarantined. SUCH A SHAME that some people do not have enough brains to quarantine themselves when they realise they are ill, I think it could save other people a lot of worries, not to mention the problem of people coming home from cruises and foreign ports and possibly importing ‘bugs’ into Australia, think of the number of people who disembar in Sydney and then fly onto other capital cities etc.,

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *