Norovirus: Scourge of the Seas

2014 has just begun, and three cruise lines are already battling publicized outbreaks of disease.  Passengers and crew are suffering from symptoms of norovirus infection including nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.

Noroviruses are spread by person-to-person contact, contaminated surfaces, food, and water. Infections can spread quickly from person to person, since norovirus has a very low infectious dose, immunity is rare, and a single infected person can shed billions of viruses per day.

Inactivation of norovirus on environmental surfaces is a key step in minimizing disease transmission.  The cruise industry often relies on simple dilutable quaternary ammonium formulations for sanitation because they are inexpensive and non-corrosive.  However, norovirus often resists inactivation by these products.

The cruise industry needs solutions to the problem of norovirus outbreaks.  An ideal formulation would inactivate norovirus quickly, like bleach or other oxidative disinfectants, but would be compatible with all surfaces and have minimal odor and safety hazards.

Antimicrobial Test Laboratories virology unit, headed by Dr. Luisa Ikner, maintains stocks of the EPA approved surrogate for norovirus, ready for use in virucidal efficacy testing. If your company has a technology that may inactivate norovirus, give us a call to discuss testing.