A new strain of norovirus that causes vomiting and diarrhoea emerged in Asia last winter and appears to be spreading globally, threatening larger outbreaks of gastro infections that are the bane of luxury cruise liners.
The new strain, known as GII.17, that emerged in southern China has the potential to spread widely because people will probably lack immunity to it. The virus is highly contagious and is transmitted by infected food and people.
Outbreaks on cruise ships are especially noticeable because the contained environment and shared dining areas allow the disease to spread quickly – more than 80 per cent of passengers are often affected, according to World Health Organisation figures.
But most epidemics occur on land. Cases of GII.17 have been detected in the US, South America, Europe and Africa.
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