TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 27, 2016

Global medical community works toward norovirus vaccine

Researchers worldwide aim to develop a norovirus vaccine. | Courtesy of cdc.gov
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, CDC Foundation and the CDC brought together norovirus experts from around the world last month -- including representatives from the medical industry, private charitable foundations, governments and academia -- from 17 countries on six different continents to discuss the prospects for creating a norovirus vaccine.

Researchers continue to use funds from organizations such as the CDC Foundation and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation for further research and development into creating a vaccine against norovirus, also called food poisoning or stomach flu.

The major symptoms of norovirus include severe vomiting or diarrhea. It is highly contagious and can be spread through contaminated surfaces, people or food. Experts estimate that every American contracts norovirus five times within his or her lifetime.

Typically, the virus only causes discomfort for a few days, but sometimes the virus causes more serious symptoms in elderly adults and young children. The CDC estimates that annually, the U.S. sees between 19 million and 21 million norovirus cases, with approximately 56,000-71,000 hospitalizations and 570-800 deaths. Around the world, there are approximately 50,000-100,000 childhood deaths caused by norovirus each year. Approximately 20 percent of all cases of diarrhea are tied to norovirus.

Health professionals recommend that the public improve overall sanitation and hygiene (including hand-washing habits) to avoid contracting norovirus.