Noroviruses, non-enveloped single-stranded RNA viruses, that account for up to 50% of gastroenteritis outbreaks and the most common foodborne-disease outbreaks are found to spread several meters by air from infected persons. They cause food poisoning and were thought to be foodborne.
These viruses are highly contagious and their infections are most common in healthcare facilities where the hygiene is compromised with constant interaction between the patients and the healthcare personnel.
Current established modes of transmission include direct contact with infected people, or by indirect contact with infected surfaces (food, vomit and fecal matter) and suggestions have been made on their air-borne risks.
A study published in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases (work led by Dr Caroline’s team at Université Laval and Quebec Heart and Lung Institute) detected high concentrations of noroviruses in the air samples of 6 out of 8 healthcare centres during the outbreaks.
Samples were collected 1 meter from the infected patient’s room and the nurses’ station. Their in vitro work shows that these viruses can get aerosolized (viruses from sneeze, cough contaminated matter can be converted to a light form aerosol) that can allow for them to be trasmitted through air.
Based on the current findings, new infection prevention measures need to be implemented in the healthcare centres to contain this virus trasmission during outbreaks.