If I Have One Phobia…
My daughter came down with the dreaded “stomach flu” yesterday. Ugghh… I would not wish that not even on my lab partner that really irritates me. Ha ha. Anyway, poor thing threw up all night and had stomach cramps. It’s really horrible to watch a small child deal with profuse vomiting. Everyone involved is just so helpless. To make matters worse, during dinner last night right before her episode of vomiting, her brother and I finished her leftovers. Great. So you know what’s probably in store for me for the next 24-72 hours.
So anyway, I’ve decided to make today’s post a little lesson in virology. This one goes out to my cool-ass virology professor. ;o)
There are two main types of viruses associated with the stomach flu. Stomach flu, of course, is a misnomer because it is not an influenza virus at all. It appears that my daughter has contracted norovirus. This virus comes from the family Caliciviridae and the genus, of course, is Norovirus. It is a single stranded RNA, non-enveloped virus. The incubation period is between 24-48 hours and symptoms are usually sudden and last for one to two days. These include vomiting, diarrhea, stomach cramps, and possibly mild fever. Transmission is through fecal-oral route, contact with infected items such as utensils or food, or direct person to person spread. It appears that a majority of the outbreaks are spread through contaminated food. It is believed that infectivity generally lasts three days but may last for up to two weeks. Immunity is short-lived. The most interesting fact that I learned about this virus is that the CDC has found that resistance to the virus may be genetically determined and those with the blood group O may be most susceptible to severe infection. Shit. Guess what my blood type is? O positive.
Rotavirus is another common cause of the stomach flu. It is a double-stranded, nonenveloped, double-shelled virus. It has a wheel-like appearance, hence the prefix “rota” in its name. It is from the family Reoviridae and the genus Rotovirus. Those infected experience similar symptoms as the norovirus but they tend to last longer – three to eight days. Symptoms are usually worse in children. Adults may become infected but often are asymptomatic or only experience mild symptoms due to partial immunity from previous infections. An FDA-approved vaccine, RotaTeq, is on the market for rotavirus.
With both viruses, medical intervention is usually unnecessary as the viruses are not serious (although it feels that way when you’re hurling into the toilet!). The main complication of these illnesses is dehydration, which tend to occur in those who cannot care for themselves such as small children and the elderly. Handwashing and disinfection using a bleach-based product or a disinfectant such as Lysol is essential in order to prevent further transmission. Also be aware that hand sanitizers are not effective agents in destroying these viruses.
Well, let’s see what the next two days have in store for me. I’ll keep my fingers crossed and hope that all of you may dodge this awful illness as well!
Filed under: Research | 3 Comments
Tags: childhood illnesses, contagious, diarrhea, disease, infection, microbiology, norovirus, rotavirus, science education, stomach flu, stomach virus, virus, vomiting