Norovirus outbreak in Osaka infects 48, claiming 2 lives

OSAKA —

A hospital in Daito, Osaka has become the scene of a norovirus outbreak that has so far claimed the lives of two patients.

Since the outbreak began on Nov 27, 48 patients and medical staff have contracted the norovirus at the hospital. An 88-year-old woman and a 76-year-old man are believed to have died of organ failure after being infected, NTV reported Wednesday.

Doctors say the gastroenteritis symptoms caused by norovirus include repeated vomiting and diarrhea. Although symptoms usually abate within a day or two, the norovirus can also cause dehydration in young children and the elderly, affecting chronic diseases.

Norovirus infections are transmitted person to person, by contaminated food and water, and by contaminated surfaces. Local authorities say they are trying to identify the source of the outbreak.

The National Institute of Infectious Diseases is warning of a norovirus epidemic, as 2012 shows one of the highest infection rates on record. According to data collected from around 3,000 medial institutions, the average number of suspected norovirus patients per hospital stood at 11.39 in the week of Nov 12-18 this year. This figure represents the highest number since 2006, when 16.42 people per hospital were infected.

Japan Today

  • 0

    Disillusioned

    I had this three years ago. Very unpleasant indeed! It also seems to breakout around this time of year. After experiencing this disease it is very easy to understand how the elderly and the young can die from it. The only good thing i got from it was losing four kilos in a week.

  • -7

    AKBfan

    I would be really nervous about this if I lived in Osaka - frankly, s**tting myself!!

  • 1

    Farmboy

    the average number of suspected norovirus patients per hospital stood at 11.39 in the week of Nov 12-18 this year

    Yikes! So... how many of those are in Osaka? That would seem like good information to know ... or are people in Osaka being shielded from any alarming news so they don't worry too much?

  • 3

    Alex Einz

    Just passed thru this on this weekend, very nasty 2 days, the good part really is although you cant do any training - you lose proper 3 to 4kg - important is to remember to rehydrate yourself and just wait it out.

  • 2

    cleo

    What a horrible way to go. RIP to the two old people.

    Norovirus is one of the nastiest bugs it's possible to get. Last January I, son, daughter and granddaughter all came down with it and were very, very poorly for three or four days. It's very easily transmitted via person-to-person contact, contact with faecal matter or surfaces on which the virus is present, or via contaminated foodstuffs. A person can pass on the infection before symptoms develop, and up to a couple of weeks after symptoms have disappeared. Everything an infected person has touched needs to be disinfected with bleach, and a person who has had the infection in the last two weeks or so should not prepare food for others to eat. Wash your hands at every opportunity.

    Normally Japanese companies expect their employees to gaman through illness, but my son was ordered not to come into work until he had a doctor's note stating he was no longer infectious. I guess they didn't want to lose the rest of their staff.

  • 1

    kominka

    Last Sunday, my daughter was vomiting, had chills and diarrhea. Monday morning she went to her local clinic and doc there said she had norovirus. He loaded her up on meds, as they seem to do here, and by Tuesday morning, she felt fine. She lives in Kobe. The doctor said he has seen many case there. Beware and be healthy.

  • 0

    Frungy

    I had it a few years ago. Truly unpleasant. I'll be disinfecting my hands regularly for a month or so now.

    I suspect the reason there are outbreaks at this time every year is that there's no hot water in Japanese bathrooms. Normally the Japanese are good about washing their hands, but I've noticed that during winter they'll skip the hand washing because they don't want to touch the cold water.

  • 4

    Newsman

    I can count the number of public restrooms I have seen in Japan that have hot water, soap, and paper towels on the fingers of one unclean hand ...

  • -1

    Cos

    are people in Osaka being shielded from any alarming news so they don't worry too much?

    Does worrying help ? Does worrying too much help ? I'm in Osaka, I've had norovirus before. You get sick to very sick, you may die (and you may die of anything, have your will ready) . But that's not ebola nor the bubonic plague. And such viruses come back every year. We still don't know what can be done. Yeah, wash your hands, etc... I do, but that's like chicken soup.

  • 0

    Yubaru

    The outbreak was announced on the news (tv) last week. Evidently it is not limited to Osaka by any means and is affecting people all over the country. Stay healthy folks!

  • 0

    deepstar6

    That virus infected me and my family too (I live in Tokyo). First my kid, then my wife, then my kid again and finally me. I lost a couple of kilos (good for me). Especially not good for babies and toddlers at all. Washing hands, mouth and almost anything does not help at all. Neither does wearing masks. Hope the authorities pinpoint the outbreak source.

    Good luck! Stay fit!

  • 0

    AKBfan

    Just read this about the UK. seems this is not just because "Japanese people don't wash their hands" etc as people above seem to think

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/health/healthnews/9721551/More-than-half-a-million-people-struck-down-with-norovirus.html

  • -5

    some14some

    by product of unhygienic food and unhygienic body care.

  • 0

    UsagitoSaru

    I wonder if it was due to chicken sashimi or not..this food is really popular recently around Osaka and Nagoya..last year one of my friends in Osaka ended up in the hospital due to eating chicken sashimi.

  • 1

    nandakandamanda

    Alcohol sprays don't really kill the thing. As Cleo said above, the best sprays are bleach/chlorine (Enso) sprays.

  • 0

    JoshuYaki

    with this many people infected, it sounds like someone who is responsible for food prep who dispite feeling deathly ill forced himself / herself to go to work. This is not a question of hygene more one of honor and not wanting to call in sick. This is the outcome. I have had the norovirus before and it's totally miserable

  • 0

    Reckless

    Whole family including me got it over past weekend in Tokyo. Kindergarten kid brought it home last Friday. Very unpleasant weekend...

  • 0

    Reckless

    BTW, washing won't necessarily help if you use the same toilet because norovirus can be sprayed into the air and settle on door handles, etc. with flushing.

  • 1

    Charles M Burns

    Use a paper towel to open the door, oh right, there aren't any...

  • 0

    cleo

    someone who is responsible for food prep who dispite feeling deathly ill forced himself / herself to go to work

    Not necessarily, you're infectious for at least a day or so before you get any symptoms. We caught it from a toddler who was as genki as could be...until the next day.

  • 2

    globalwatcher

    Norovirus: No Vaccine and No Treatment

    There is no vaccine to prevent norovirus infection. Also, there is no drug to treat people who get sick from the virus. Antibiotics will not help if you have norovirus illness. This is because antibiotics fight against bacteria, not viruses. The best way to reduce your chance of getting norovirus is by following some simple tips.

    Stop the Spread of Norovirus

    Practice proper hand hygiene

    Wash your hands carefully with soap and water, especially after using the toilet and changing diapers and always before eating or preparing food. If soap and water aren't available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer. These alcohol-based products can quickly reduce the number of germs on hands in some situations, but they are not a substitute for washing with soap and water.

    Take care in the kitchen

    Carefully wash fruits and vegetables, and cook oysters and other shellfish thoroughly before eating them.

    Do not prepare food while infected

    People with norovirus illness should not prepare food for others while they have symptoms and for 3 days after they recover from their illness. (see For Food Handlers: Norovirus and Working with Food)

    Clean and disinfect contaminated surfaces

    After throwing up or having diarrhea, immediately clean and disinfect contaminated surfaces by using a bleach-based household cleaner as directed on the product label. If no such cleaning product is available, you can use a solution made with 5 tablespoons to 1.5 cups of household bleach per 1 gallon of water.

    Wash laundry thoroughly

    Immediately remove and wash clothing or linens that may be contaminated with vomit or stool. Handle soiled items carefully—without agitating them—to avoid spreading virus. If available, wear rubber or disposable gloves while handling soiled clothing or linens and wash your hands after handling. The items should be washed with detergent at the maximum available cycle length and then machine dried.

  • 0

    Crazedinjapan

    It's definitely not a virus to get if you are already suffering from something else. Lots of electrolytes and fluid replacement with this nasty virus.

    I've always been worried about stepping foot in a clinic or hospital seems like a good place to pick this up. As for people referring that Japan is in any way unhygienic ....it's hard to make a comparitive to a country that's this populated , there's many ways to come in contact with this virus just from daily activities here. Trains people crammed inside, all breathing same air, holding the rings and bars to keep balance , physical contact ...dozens of ways just in commuting alone.

    Densely populated areas , those areas are bound to have rapid transmission of viruses and such. It's all about the strength of your own system and luck of the draw.

  • -7

    Frungy

    globalwatcherDec. 05, 2012 - 11:19PM JST Norovirus: No Vaccine and No Treatment ... Also, there is no drug to treat people who get sick from the virus.

    Nonsense. At the first symptoms ask your doctor for anti-virals, and a good anti-emetic. Hydrate well, and for heaven's sakes don't go out in public. Treatment is available. Don't be misinformed.

  • 1

    cleo

    At the first symptoms ask your doctor for anti-virals, and a good anti-emetic. Hydrate well, and for heaven's sakes don't go out in public. Treatment is available. Don't be misinformed.

    The treatment is for symptoms, not the underlying infection. That just has to run its (mercifully short) course. The most important thing is to stay hydrated, as your body is doing all it can to dry you out. Severe dehydration not only makes you hurt all over - as if you've had a beating from the inside - it stops you thinking straight, makes you dizzy and confused. It can be very dangerous.

    http://www.phac-aspc.gc.ca/id-mi/norovirus-eng.php

    There is no preventative treatment (no vaccine or antiviral medication) for noroviruses and they cannot be treated with antibiotics because antibiotics fight bacteria, not viruses.

  • 0

    Fadamor

    Nonsense. At the first symptoms ask your doctor for anti-virals, and a good anti-emetic.

    You seem to think there are "generic" anti-viral medications out there. There aren't. Each anti-viral is specifically targeted for a specific virus. There is a company that has a norovirus anti-viral in development, but it hasn't finished trials yet.

    Anti-emetics will just reduce the symptoms of nausea and vomiting, they won't do anything to address the actual infection.

  • 0

    globalwatcher

    globalwatcherDec. 05, 2012 - 11:19PM JST Norovirus: No Vaccine and No Treatment ... Also, there is no drug to treat people who get sick from the virus.

    Nonsense. At the first symptoms ask your doctor for anti-virals, and a good anti-emetic

    There is NO cure to kill virus. Only your immune system (t-cell, k-cell) can.

  • -1

    Viviana Guadagno

    @Disillusioned I agree with you ! I also got this virus on Jan2011 in Kyoto, I wonder why the Norovirus comes every year at the same time in Japan , Japan is very safe and clean country .

  • 2

    sau133

    Don't go into hospitals and clinics when you have this - get advice over the phone from your doctor who would probably recommend drinking plenty of rehydrating fluids and resting. As above it can be fatal to elderly and very young, and unborn babies, clinics are usually full of these vulnerable people so you would not be helping anyone from visiting. I have also had this before and it was the most ill I have ever been. You just need to sit it out (or shit it out as the case may be)

  • 1

    globalwatcher

    Japan is very safe and clean country .

    I have noticed Japanese do not shampoo and sanitize carpet as often. Not really clean as you think. I am sorry to say.

  • 1

    globalwatcher

    Japan is not really clean as you think.

    Poor air quality in public place without a proper ventilation and a water scrubbing air cleaning system is beyond me. I try to avoid these places as much as I can whenever I visit Japan.

  • -5

    nigelboy

    I have noticed Japanese do not shampoo and sanitize carpet as often. Not really clean as you think. I am sorry to say.

    Perhaps it has to do with the fact that they take off their shoes.

  • 1

    globalwatcher

    nigelboyDec. 06, 2012 - 06:56AM JST

    I have noticed Japanese do not shampoo and sanitize carpet as often. Not really clean as you think. I am sorry to say.

    Perhaps it has to do with the fact that they take off their shoes.

    Everyone takes off the shoes. Yet, I hire shampoo cleaning contractors to do the job TWICE a year, ventilation cleaning ONCE a year, changing air filters every month, drapery cleaning TWICE a year. Super clean. My carpet is off white, drapery snow white, all central air. This is a middle income home hygene standard of US.

  • -1

    sfjp330

    For some people who have asthma or who are allergic to mold, an air conditioner that isn’t working properly could spur mold growth and make their conditions worse. If the humidification systems in poor condition, this can increase the risk for health conditions, including headaches and problems with the respiratory system. Health problems are not typically an issue with well-maintained systems. If you add HEPA filter to an A/C unit will filter out even more allergens and adding dehumidifier, by keeping humidity by not making the air too dry.

  • 2

    Craft Ledger

    THANKYOU Japan Today for reporting ALL the facts! - NHK 7.00pm News Bulletin last night did not advise of any deaths in their report on the same subject.

  • -1

    cleo

    I wonder why the Norovirus comes every year at the same time in Japan

    It's an annual event in most countries, some years it's worse than others. The UK is just getting over an epidemic. It has nothing to do with whether people have a culture of shampooing their carpets.

  • 0

    Dennis Bauer

    @globalwatcher

    carpet cleaners? don't you watch japanese tv commercials? all you need is Ferbreze :p

  • 0

    globalwatcher

    Dennis BauerDec. 06, 2012 - 09:11AM JST

    @globalwatcher

    carpet cleaners? don't you watch japanese tv commercials? all you need is Ferbreze :p

    Oh dear, Dennis, Ferbrize does not kill germs. Japanese and I never agree when it comes to hygene.

    I am not a woman, but I even specially ordered custom made slipcovers for the couches and all chairs in all snow white. I use Woolite and wash them once every 3 months in cold water to keep them crisp clean. All these slipcovers were very expensive, but they are worth it. I wash all my dishes and pans in dish washer machine to kill germs after hand washing. All linens are cleaned every day.

    I just wanted to mention about it as someone posted that Japan is clean. That's a myth.

  • 1

    Thomas Anderson

    I wonder why the Norovirus comes every year at the same time in Japan

    Maybe it's because people have weakened immunity during cold weather... or something.

  • -3

    Frungy

    I can see that no-one here is a doctor or has any medical training.

    A broad-spectrum antiviral WILL have a significant effect against norovirus. In the recent paper "Broad-Spectrum Antivirals against 3C or 3C-Like Proteases of Picornaviruses, Noroviruses, and Coronaviruses.", Kim, et. al. show that broad-spectrum anti-virals:

    compounds were highly effective against the majority of tested viruses, with half-maximal inhibitory concentrations in the high nanomolar or low micromolar range in enzyme- and/or cell-based assays and with high therapeutic indices.

    ... or to put that in normal English, they work.

    As for criticism of my suggestion of antiemetic medication, yes it is just for symptom suppression, but the reason people die from norovirus is .... drumroll THE SYMPTOMS! Yes, all that throwing up may just be a symptom, but the resulting dehydration is what kills people. An antiemetic would significantly increase patient comfort and decrease the mortality rate. Oh, plus a little common sense people, the problem with norovirus is that most people can't keep anything down, which includes fluids, i.e. they swallow a mouthful of sports drink and then throw it up minutes later. An antiemetic would significantly increase the ability of patients to keep fluids down.

    So Cleo, Fadamor, Globalwatcher, and the four other people who thumbs-downed my post, but clearly lack any medical expertise or training, I'll take that apology now.

  • -2

    cleo

    Frungy, to quote from the abstract to your paper - these compounds have the potential to be developed as antiviral therapeutics aimed at a single virus or multiple viruses - meaning they haven't yet been developed.

    Or to put that in normal English, ask your doctor for them, he won't give them to you because they haven't been developed yet.

    I did not criticise your suggestion of antiemetic medication, in fact I backed up the strategy of keeping hydrated. I don't expect an apology, but don't let that stop you. :-)

    I didn't thumb-down your first post. I did the last one.

  • -2

    Frungy

    cleoDec. 06, 2012 - 10:46AM JST Frungy, to quote from the abstract to your paper - these compounds have the potential to be developed as antiviral therapeutics aimed at a single virus or multiple viruses - meaning they haven't yet been developed. Or to put that in normal English, ask your doctor for them, he won't give them to you because they haven't been developed yet.

    And I suppose you're so up to date that you would know the MOMENT an antiviral was released? They're currently in trials, but initially they'll be expensive, and your doctor is unlikely to give them to you unless you ask. In fact in Japan your doctor is likely to tell you to just "gaman" unless you specifically ask. Doctors here don't even give antiemetics unless you ask quite firmly. Unless you ask you won't get.

    I did not criticise your suggestion of antiemetic medication, in fact I backed up the strategy of keeping hydrated. I don't expect an apology, but don't let that stop you. :-)

    My, you are smug. I re-read your initial post in case I was wronging you, but you pretty much side-step the issue. You neither recommend nor deny antiemetics, instead you just jump to saying people should hydrate, while ignoring the issue that hydrating is very difficult when you're throwing up whatever you drink.

  • 0

    cleo

    They're currently in trials, but initially they'll be expensive

    Future tense. Go to your doctor today, ask him specifically and quite firmly, throw money at him, and he still won't give you antivirals to combat your norovirus, because he can't because there aren't any.

    Unless you ask you won't get.

    When I saw my doctor I really wasn't in any state to do anything but wilt and try not to make a mess on his surgery floor. I certainly wasn't asking firmly for anything. I got stuff to treat the symptoms, and since the symptoms were vomiting and dehydration, I got medication to treat those - hydrating agents and antiemetics.

    You neither recommend nor deny antiemetics

    I state that what the doctor gives you is stuff to treat the symptoms. I don't see how not spelling things out or repeating everything you say with lavish praise, is a criticism.

  • -1

    Frungy

    You neither recommend nor deny antiemetics

    I state that what the doctor gives you is stuff to treat the symptoms. I don't see how not spelling things out or repeating everything you say with lavish praise, is a criticism.

    So you admit there is a treatment available? Thank you, that's what I was saying. My post was in response to Globalwatcher's post saying that no treatment is available, which is nonsense. At last you admit you were wrong. How nice.

  • 1

    cleo

    you admit there is a treatment available?

    For the symptoms. That's what I said right at the start.

    Your post in response to Globalwatcher had people going looking for anti-virals, which aren't going to do you any good.

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