Clusters of a virus known to cause stomach flu are resistant to detergent and ultraviolet disinfection, according to new research co-led by Danmeng Shuai, Ph.D., an associate professor of civil and environmental engineering at the George Washington University and Nihal Altan-Bonnet, Ph.D., a senior investigator and the head of the Laboratory of Host-Pathogen Dynamics at the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, part of the National Institutes of Health. The findings suggest the need to revisit current disinfection, sanitation and hygiene practices aimed at protecting people from noroviruses.
Noroviruses are the leading cause of gastroenteritis around the world, with over 21 million cases each year in the United States alone.
In 2018, Altan-Bonnet’s team found that noroviruses can be transmitted to humans via membrane-enclosed packets that contain more than one virus. In the past, scientists thought that viruses spread through exposure to individual virus particles, but the 2018 study–and others–showed how membrane-enclosed clusters arrive at a human cell and release an army of viruses all at once.