Norovirus outbreak in Kerala: 19 school students infected in Ernakulam; all you need to know

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Norovirus in Kerala: At least 19 students of a school in Kakkanad in Kerala’s Ernakulam have tested positive for norovirus, India Today reported on Monday. Some of the parents have also been infected with norovirus, a cause of acute gastroenteritis, the report said citing the authorities. Following the outbreak, online classes have been introduced for students from Class 1 to Class 5.

Earlier in the day, a senior medical officer of the district said 62 students and a few parents of the school exhibited symptoms following which two samples were sent for testing at the State Public Laboratory. Last year, two children were found infected with the same virus at Vizhinjam in Thiruvananthapuram.

Here’s all you need to know about norovirus

– As per the World Health Organisation, norovirus is a viral illness that is the most common cause of acute gastroenteritis globally. It is commonly referred to as ‘food poisoning’ or a ‘stomach bug’. Norovirus is highly contagious. 

– Symptoms of norovirus include acute onset diarrhea and vomiting. The illness often begins suddenly and one may feel very sick, with stomach cramping, nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea. The infection is associated with intestinal inflammation, and malnutrition and may cause long-term morbidity.

– An estimated 685 million cases of norovirus are seen annually, including 200 million cases amongst children under 5, the WHO said. The infection causes an estimated 200,000 deaths per year, including 50,000 child deaths, primarily impacting low-income countries.

– Norovirus has been estimated to cost $60 billion globally as a result of healthcare costs and economic losses, the global health institution said.

– According to the national health agency of the US, norovirus is the leading cause of vomiting and diarrhea from acute gastroenteritis among people of all ages in America. 

– Most norovirus outbreaks in the US happen from November to April. In years when there is a new strain of the virus, there can be 50 per cent more norovirus illness, the health agency said. 

– Most outbreaks of this virus happen when infected people spread the virus to others through direct contact. Food, water, and surfaces contaminated with norovirus can also cause outbreaks.