International Scientific Forum on Home Hygiene

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Sept 17th: How norovirus spreads Trojan horse style

Whereas it was always assumed that viruses were most effective at spreading illness by attacking human cells as individual virus particles, new research demonstrates that viral particles concealed in a membrane can mount a much more potent attack on individual human cells.

Experiments using mice and piglets show the severity of illness is much greater when the animals are exposed to vesicle-enclosed virus clusters. Stools of infected hosts contain norovirus and rotavirus within vesicles of exosomal or plasma membrane origin. These vesicles remain intact during fecal-oral transmission and thereby transport multiple viral particles collectively to the next host, enhancing disease severity. Vesicle-cloaked viruses are non-negligible populations in stool and have a disproportionately larger contribution to infectivity than free viruses. The study highlights a need for antivirals targeting vesicles and virus clustering.

Vesicle-Cloaked Virus Clusters Are Optimal Units for Inter-organismal Viral Transmission Santiana, Marianita et al. Cell Host & Microbe , Volume 24 , Issue 2 , 208 - 220.e8