Kiwis are being urged to take health precautions to prevent
infection from a deadly strain of norovirus, which is
spreading across Europe and North America and has also
reached New Zealand.
The Sydney 2012 variant has mutated so it is not recognisable
by the human immune system, said Professor Peter White from
the University of New South Wales team that identified the
The virus has taken about four years to reach its current
"pandemic label", said Professor White, who told Radio New
Zealand he has been researching the virus with New Zealand
Those infected suffer 48 hours of severe illness including
vomiting, diarrhoea, nausea, headaches and possibly fever.
"Ninety-five per cent of the New Zealand norovirus outbreaks
and infections now are from the Sydney 2012 strain, and
you'll get even more norovirus because it peaks in the
By the time this virus has run its course in two or three
years' time, more than 100,000 New Zealanders are likely to
have been affected by it.
"It's very difficult to avoid unless you live in a bubble,"
he told the radio station.
Those infected need to take all possible precautions to stop
the contagious virus from spreading to others, said Professor
"Don't go to work, don't visit hospitals, don't visit other
people's homes, don't visit childcare centres."
The virus kills around 200,000 people around the world each
year, with the very young and old and those with poor immune
systems the worst affected.
There is no vaccine or treatment.
"The best defence we've got is protection and prevention from
infection, so once you are infected you really do need to
keep your fluids up. Rehydration is critical because if
you're going to die from this virus it will be through
dehydration," he said.
- Abby Gillies of APNZ