Monday, 10 September 2012

Norovirus, Pigs and People

The writer has, for years, been curious about a possible link between human Norovirus and pigs. It has long been known that pigs get Norovirus, but no suggestion that we have seen of a connection.

Human Norovirus (often called Norwalk in the USA) seems to have been getting steadily worse. Britain is certainly a hotspot, but the problems are worldwide. In Britain, they are often seen in hospital ward closures, with all the distress entailed in that, Scotland for example having 2000 ward-day closures in one year.

Norovirus on board cruise vessels is wrecking the industry and destroying thousands of holidays every year.
See article here

The British oyster industry recently had Norovirus in 76 percent of its catch.

But I drew a blank, few were interested, probably because no solution was in sight, even if I was right.

For a business or a hospital, making a fuss about Norovirus was all downside: "don't panic" at its most understandable, damaging and complacent.

Anyway, things have suddenly changed. A very senior veterinarian, not British has suddenly mused on the possibility of humans being infected from pigs, more as a throw away line when dealing with other species.

A day or so apart, the Chinese published. Some strains of Porcine Norovirus are virtually indistinguishable from Human Norovirus, and fascinatingly it has appeared as a co-infection to the very sinister Porcine Circovirus.

You can't solve a problem until someone publicly admits it exists. In this PR obsessed world, the taxpayer or customer has to find out and to insist that something is done, usually by pestering the politician or taking their business elsewhere.

For Chinese research see here

Porcine Norovirus identified from piglet with diarrhea