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Making a Norovirus Vaccine a Reality

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Transmission electron micrograph (TEM) image of some of the ultrastructural morphology displayed by norovirus virions, or virus particles.
Transmission electron micrograph (TEM) image of some of the ultrastructural morphology displayed by norovirus virions, or virus particles.

Have you ever experienced severe diarrhea or vomiting? If you have, it’s likely you had norovirus. If you haven’t, chances are you will sometime in your life. Norovirus is a very contagious virus that anyone can get from contaminated food or surfaces, or from an infected person. It is the most common cause of diarrhea and vomiting (also known as gastroenteritis) and is often referred to as food poisoning or stomach flu. In the United States, a person is likely to get norovirus about 5 times during their life.

Norovirus has always caused a considerable portion of gastroenteritis among all age groups. However, improved diagnostic testing and gains in the prevention of other gastroenteritis viruses, like rotavirus, are beginning to unmask the full impact of norovirus

For most people, norovirus causes diarrhea and vomiting which lasts a few days but, the symptoms can be serious for some people, especially young children and older adults. Each year in the United States, norovirus causes 19 to 21 million illnesses and contributes to 56,000 to 71,000 hospitalizations and 570 to 800 deaths.

Protect Yourself and Others from Norovirus.
While there is hope for a norovirus vaccine in the future, there are steps you can take now to prevent norovirus.

Additionally, norovirus is increasingly being recognized as a major cause of diarrheal disease around the globe, accounting for nearly 20% of all diarrheal cases. In developing countries, it is associated with approximately 50,000 to 100,000 child deaths every year. Because it is so infectious, hand washing and improvements in sanitation and hygiene can only go so far in preventing people from getting infected and sick with norovirus.

This is why efforts to develop a vaccine are so important and why in February 2015 the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, CDC Foundation, and CDC brought together norovirus experts from around the world to discuss how to make the norovirus vaccine a reality. Participants were from 17 countries on 6 continents and included representatives from academia, industry, government, and private charitable foundations.

Important questions remain regarding how humans develop immunity to norovirus, how long immunity lasts, and whether immunity to one norovirus strain protects against infection from other strains. There are also relevant questions as to how a norovirus vaccine would be used to prevent the most disease and protect those at highest risk for severe illness. These are all critical questions for a vaccine, and this meeting was a step toward finding answers to these questions and making a norovirus vaccine a reality.

For more information on norovirus visit CDC’s webpage: http://www.cdc.gov/norovirus/.

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51 comments on “Making a Norovirus Vaccine a Reality”

Comments listed below are posted by individuals not associated with CDC, unless otherwise stated. These comments do not represent the official views of CDC, and CDC does not guarantee that any information posted by individuals on this site is correct, and disclaims any liability for any loss or damage resulting from reliance on any such information. Read more about our comment policy ».

    So there is no vaccine for norovirus yet? If there is is it effective to give long immunity?

    A good job!
    will like to know the differences between Rota virus and Norovirus, and, can Rota virus vaccine take place of Noro virus vaccine?
    Thank you.

    Very exciting news! It’s encouraging to read that the CDC and the Bill and Melida Gates foundation are partnering to create a vaccine for this disease, dreaded my so many of us. Much success to the scientists!

    This is awesome!!! I’ve had emetophobia for the last 15 years due to a traumatic experience with vomiting. A lot of people don’t know how contagious norovirus is and a lot of schools and work places don’t allow for the time to recover while you are still contagious, therefore making you spread your sickness to others. Thank you, thank you, thank you!!

    @Danlami Muhammad Zango good question. While rotavirus symptoms are similar to those of norovirus, they are different viruses. Rotavirus mainly affects young children while norovirus is more likely to affect people of all ages.

    I had Noro while on a cruise ship. It is awful ! Thought I was going to die. Had to be hospitalized in ships med center. Please find a vaccine for this virus soon.

    @GeorgeKennedy, immunity to norovirus is not lifelong. After exposure to a particular norovirus, there is a period of immunity to that norovirus and related strains, that may last a few months or years. However, because noroviruses are a diverse group of viruses, the immunity that develops after exposure to one norovirus, may not protect against other strains.

    Hello,
    Thank you for your post. This is a really interesting fact and the possibility of developing a vaccine for the Norovirus is promising. It can certainly prevent deaths from food borne illnesses especially in third world countries where immediate treatment is scarce. I, personally, have suffered from food poisoning and it was not a good experience. Having a vaccine to prevent that disease would be great. This post has definitely helped me look forward to a future with reduced incidences of food poisoning. In the meantime, I would make sure my food is well cooked and properly handled!

    This is an interesting blog because it is giving a possible solution to a really common problem. Additionally like it was mentioned in this blog, many people in other underdeveloped countries die from this virus. Therefore, these vaccines would be a great solution to theses people in underdeveloped countries because it would decrease the mortality rates and in developed countries it would decrease the discomfort, hospitalization and possible complications due to this virus. Gastroenteritis is a common problem that everyone including myself can relate to because we have all experienced the stomach flu or food poisoning. from this article I have learned that there is possibility for a vaccine for this, which is great!! However, in the meantime I also learned that there are preventative measures that I can take and teach other people about such as frequent hand washing, such as before eating and preparing meals, proper washing/cleaning of foods and utensils when preparing meals, and proper food storage techniques.

    I had no idea what virus was to blame for a bad case of diarrhea and that everyone will contract this virus in their lifetime. This relates to my life in the way that when somebody including myself have a case of “the runs” we just take pepto bismol and expect the diarrhea to go away when in reality the norovirus causing gastroenteritis is to blame. The adjustment that I can make from the gaining of this knowledge is to keep close attention to the presenting of the norovirus vaccine to the public in order to prevent the contraction of this virus with its awful signs and symptoms. This vaccine would be wonderful to patients that have had to be hospitalized for the norovirus contraction issue.

    What was interesting about this blog was that i was not aware that the stomach flu or food poisoning was called norovirus. I also did not realize that people can actually die from this, but taken if it is an elderly person or a child other problems such as dehydration come into play.
    This can relate to something in my life because i have food poisoning several times within this last year and i am hoping that this vaccine will soon become a reality, because having food poisoning is not fun.

    The changes that i will make from my knowledge gained are to pay more attention to the food i am consuming.

    I believe that primary prevention is the best way of stopping the incidents of a disease. Having an immunization against norovirus will save a lot of discomfort for people who acquired such virus and for parents as well, since it results very painful to see owns child to go over such terrible pain, in addition to the severity of the infection if not catch it on time. I got the virus on my 4th week of pregnancy. I suffered of severe dehydration, and it took me a few hours to figure out that the excessive vomiting was due to a virus and not to the pregnancy. I will definitely support the research for the development and use of this vaccine for the well-being of the community.

    This vaccine cannot come fast enough. Thanks to Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, for recognizing this as well as all the scientists, academics, and researches that continue to push this issue for a permanent prevention method. We’ve come that far with many other illnesses including ones that don’t cause so much pain and suffering and even death to so many. Let’s work together to makes sure policy makers and “politics” doesn’t stand in the way of making a successful NV vaccine a reality soon. Thank you!

    I find this blog post to be very informative and relevant to patient nursing care. The prevention of a disease that affects 20% of the world’s population at least one to five times in their lives and may potentially be fatal would be a medical breakthrough. The consequences of uncontrolled diarrhea and vomiting can be detrimental, especially to those already ill and immune compromised which makes them more susceptible to disease. the development of an effective vaccine could mean quicker recovery for some patients. The acquisition of such knowledge regarding the common cause of vomiting and diarrhea will definitely result in an increased monitoring of hygiene and cleanliness.

    A good knowledge about virus. It is very awesome if all of us can do like the advices above. Thank for sharing with us these valuable stuff.

    This vaccine cannot come soon enough. Even though stomach viruses are short-lived (for most people), they are the most horrible thing when you are going through it. It sometimes seems like it’s almost impossible to NOT catch it once it’s in your home due to how contagious it is. I think schools and other facilities need better instructions from the CDC for how to handle the illness when children are sick in the classroom. I am just amazed when my kids tell me that a child vomited in class, yet the other kids were not evacuated, they were not instructed to wash their hands, and the windows were not opened, and who knows what was used to clean. I think schools are doing the best they can, but, need to understand that bleach is required to kill the virus as well as other helpful info that could help prevent the spread of it while we patiently wait for the vaccine.

    I believe that a vaccine for norovirus would be beneficial for both developed and developing countries. It is the cause of about 1 in 5 cases of acute gastroenteritis in developed countries. It is a smaller fraction (1/6) for developing countries overall because more cases are due to various other pathogens, but there are less resources in those countries which leads to more possible deaths due to dehydration. The vaccine is necessary for us because norovirus spreads easily and quickly. It is almost unavoidable in a person’s lifetime. It can spread through air particles from someone else’s vomit or diarrhea, sharing foods, contaminated water sources and sewers. About 50% of food-related illnesses and outbreaks are due to the norovirus, which makes it the leading cause of outbreaks from contaminated foods in America.

    Outbreaks can occur in a number of places including cruise ships, health care facilities, and even schools. These include common locations with mass amounts of people. Recently, a few of my friends caught the stomach flu, and the doctor told them that the virus is going around campus. Throughout a time period of 2 weeks, I had 4 friends who caught the same stomach flu. I feel that college students are very vulnerable to norovirus because it is so common to share food and utensils. The sanitation in cafeterias and bathrooms are also not at the best quality. We are also constantly in close contact with each other during classes.

    I think the norovirus vaccine will prove to be highly successful in decreasing the cases of infections and acute gastroenteritis in general. Because there is now a rotavirus vaccine, norovirus has become the most common cause of acute gastroenteritis. If there is a vaccine for norovirus, the same effect would result as from the rotavirus vaccine.

    I’m so glad that I’ve found this topic! I tend to have some form of food poisoning (mild to severe) multiple times a year, so the fact that there’s a vaccine in the works is uplifting news. I’m lucky enough to have the resources to stay healthy while sick with norovirus, but many people in developing countries have died due to this disease and a lack of accessible clean water. Not only would a vaccine save me from days of discomfort and complete weakness, but it could save millions of potential lives lost in developing countries. I’m constantly amazed at how many infectious diseases are becoming treatable now, and at the advances that health sciences are making. My only concern is that it is unknown as to if the vaccine will treat other strains of the norovirus or how long the vaccination would last.

    I think it is a very innovative idea to create a vaccine for norovirus. With the increasing rates of Diarrheal Diseases , the rate of Diarrheal Deaths have also gone up in countries like India and Bangladesh, and other countries that also have poor water . I think this will prevent a lot of those such deaths in these countries that are still underdeveloped. If there was a way to create such a vaccine and make sure the longevity of it was effective as well it would be an extremely effective way of saving lives.

    Considering the norovirus causes 19 to 21 million illnesses and – in developing countries – is associated with 50,000 to 100,000 child deaths every year, a vaccine would be a great benefit for the world. People are likely to get norovirus about 5 times during their life, and with this vaccine, it’ll not only make people’s lives much healthier and safer, but will also help make world’s health systems more cost efficient – since this disease contributes to 56,000 to 71,000 and 570 to 800 deaths. Even though in developed countries this disease is not exactly a life-threatening disease, developed countries are in need of this vaccine due to the high amount of child deaths it causes every year.
    Additionally, funding and approving this vaccine should be easier since people from around the world are familiar with this disease. The vaccine will also be highly successful considering the amount of people the norovirus has affected throughout the world, and how infectious it is. Currently, the only way to prevent the disease, is to constantly wash your hands and make your food properly – which has proven to be ineffective since people still obtain the disease on the average of 5 times in their lifetime. The vaccine can reduce incidences of food poisoning and make people’s lives much easier when obtaining sustenance.

    A Norovirus Vaccine would be very beneficial to everyone. I am concerned with the effectiveness of the actual vaccine. There are several causes of the disease so would a person have to receive several doses of different strains to be covered completely?
    I look forward to seeing further research about it. Any disease that can be decreased or eradicated would be good for society.

    It is easily preventable as it is easily contractible. From an infected person, food, water, or touching infected surfaces, we can get Norovirus, leading to inflamed stomach and intestines. That alone lead to a lot of discomfort and pain, particularly of the stomach, that sometimes also leads to nausea and vomiting. Although it could be easily prevented by proper hand hygiene, washing fruits and vegetables, and cleaning surfaces with disinfectants, I think having the benefit of the vaccine would be great. Because at the end of the day, not everything is always 100% avoidable or preventable.

    A vaccine for notovirus would be wicked… Cause the bug hits so many people in the winter its terrible and a horrible thing to catch expesaully when you have a big fear of vomit.. but yeah a vaccine needs to be ASAP! 😀

    I can’t wait until this vaccine is available! I’m in bed right now after being up all night with a stomach bug I caught from my daughter. I washed my hands and cleaned with bleach and still caught it. Norovirus loves me and I have had 4 viruses within the past year. I have always been very susceptible to catching it and it’s just miserable. I would love to know when and how I can get this vaccine!

    THIS IS HORRIBLE PLEASE COME OUT WITH A VACCINE SOON!!!! I don’t understand how we have a flu vac (which hardly ever prevents me from catching the flu every year) But not a vaccine for something like Noro which is 1000 times WORSE! I would rather catch the flu ten times a year than ever get this horrible virus again!!! It’s especially hard for people who are emetophobic and germaphobic. Please please please hurry and come out with one!!!!

    Please please please release this. My family gets it every year. This last month, my daughter had it and then her stomach has never been this same. She has since had ongoing stomach pains, lost her appetite and developed anxiety over eating.

    Having it be only 11 months since the group formation to create this vaccine, is their a projected date or year that we can see this vaccine being released to the public? Also is it being designed to cover both strains of Norovirus, (the common one and the new GII.4 Sydney virus)? I would definetly love to receive this vaccine and am looking forward to details about the experiments and if it would help many of us to stop worrying soon! : )
    Thank you!

    My 2yr old niece use a restroom at a doctors office, a few days later she showed signs of Norovirus. Doctor said there was nothing he could give her, a few days later she passed it to her 7month sister. It has now been passed down to me. I can only speak for myself, but my if my nieces felt any of the symptoms like I have in the pass 24 hours then I BEG you please work together invent a vaccine, to help combat this virus. I hope there will be an update soon on the topic.

    My family and i get this bug every winter sometimes more than once. Its caused me to have verbal warnings from work due to absence. As i have little control over my bowels due to child birth i then suffer with other vaginal infections and it takes weeks to get back to normal. My boy just had it now I have it again! Please advise if we near to s vaccine?would much rather have flu than this. I tend to be prone to it n from what i read immunity only lasts days.

    I read that developing the vaccine for this particular virus is difficult due to the fact that it doesn’t stick around in the host long enough for antibodies to form. Because of this, the vaccine may not be as effective

    I’m so glad I found this too. I will be first in line for whatever they give and however many hits it takes.
    I’ve been emetephobic for 13 years and after 13 years of never puking once.. I did so roughly 7 weeks ago and I’m still trying to recover from this! It messed up my entire system, had me dehydrated over and over again and now I’m scared of my food and even going out of the house sometimes because I could contract it again. The anxiety makes me feel nauseous all the time and I constantly cycle between being able to eat and then not eating or drinking because I’m so nauseous. I would rather cough blood or have nonsolid waste for the rest of my life than puke ever again. I really hope something good comes out of this..

    @Rebecca, I feel you. I’ve been emetephobic for as long as I remember and I while it was sort of under control for a while, I got sick in July 2013 and it’s been horrible ever since. Everyone always says that it’s not as bad as you fear, but it is. It is EXACTLY as bad as I thought it would be. Not a day goes by where I’m not severely nauseous and afraid I’m going to get sick again. I’m so sorry that happened to you.

    I’m an emetophobe like many of the posters here and it’s a nightmare of epic proportions. There’s been a big outbreak of norovirus in the town I live in. A secretary in my building went home with it today and I’ve been a hot mess ever since. A vaccine against this virus would bring a huge peace of mind to me and other people afflicted with this phobia.

    A vaccine would be great. This is a terrible illness that is extremely contagious and I’m sure many people would choose to vaccinate. I caught a stomach virus 1.5 years ago which caused damage to the nerves in my stomach. This disorder is called gastroparesis, think of it as paralysis of the stomach. Since my stomach is paralyzed, I have to alter my diet and puree my food in order to eat. I feel sick all the time and sometimes can only eat liquids. This nerve damage can take up to 3 years to repair and there is a 50/50 chance that it is permanent. As someone previously stated, schools and workplaces do not allow enough time off to recover, and they also do not know how to properly clean to prevent the spread (bleach is the ONLY cleaning product that will work against these viruses). I hope this vaccine can help prevent others from catching this virus and suffering from the potentially permanent effects.

    I’m literally desperate for a vaccine for this horrible virus. It hits our family EVERY year. Everyone in the house gets it for 24 hours, I however, ALWAYS get it for days. I’ve had it for as long as 10 days. Please please please get this vaccine approved and out to the public. I’ll take the flu any day over the norovirus.

    My 10 yr. old son had the GI bug for NYE 2016 and rung in the new year at the ER with severe dehydration. His symptoms continued for 3 more days with diarrhea and pain. He had missed 2 days of school with active symptoms then he had to miss another 3 days to make sure he did not pass it on because there is a girl in his class with Cancer. It’s rough, and my hands are so dry from washing every 5 min. or every time I touch a light switch or a wall. I hope this vaccine comes to light soon. Thank you, thank you, for taking the time needed to research this awful virus. As soon as it comes out my son and I will be the first ones in line.

    Are they scheduling another meeting? It sounds like they came up with a lot of questions, but are they working on answers? Any clinical trials? The article just says that the meeting was “an important first step.” We now need the second step, the third step, and the final step to take place. I am a teacher and an emetophobe. I spray disinfectant on surfaces in the classroom, bathroom, and the rest of the building on a regular basis. However, I have still caught the virus twice in a 20+ year teaching career and that is unacceptable to me. This is the twenty-first century. This virus has been around a very long time – enough time to study it and come up with a vaccine. From my understanding, it only takes 5 ppm (parts per million) of exposure to the norovirus particles to get deathly sick. Unacceptable. Is there a fund where we can donate $ for research? What is holding things up? What can we do to speed up the research and the vaccine? A solution is long over-due.

    Having had this virus, and been hospitalized, for the past 5 days, I have to say this was one of the worst viruses I’ve ever had in 64 years of life! The cost to humanity and the economy must be staggering. Praying for a vaccine…

    Any news on how close they are to developing a vaccine. I’m an emetophobe and a germaphobe and have 2 children and every year from the time school starts until probably summer my anxiety level and fear of this virus is through the roof and beyond. I do nothing but stress, worry, excessive clean and disinfect. It is unbelievable how we have vaccines for HPV, childhood illnesses and NOTHING for this!

    I don’t remember getting this virus at all as a kid, even though I have six siblings and we all went to school. But now I have two kids younger than school age, and we catch this virus at least twice a year. It’s EVERYWHERE and I have turned phobic about going out in public at all, and if we do go into public, I have panic attacks for the next several days anticipating the vomit to start. Like everyone else here, I’d rather just permanently have a cold or the common flu than EVER get this again. I did hear that the norovirus lacks a lot of proteins, which makes it hard to make a vaccine for. But at the very least, individuals and public places (like schools) seem totally uneducated about how easy it is to spread and how long they have to be quarantined even after they’re feeling better. We have other family friends that I don’t even want to hang out with anymore because the minute they’re no longer puking, they’re calling us up for play dates and we had no idea that they were so recently sick until we come down with it. People think it’s like the common cold.

    It’s about time that someone, anyone is trying to create a vaccine for the dreaded norovirus. When my children were young, we too would have this in our home twice per year..and I hated it. Watching my kids go through hours of gut wrenching pain, vomiting, diarrhea and dehydration was so hard. Every year I would ask our Doctor why they just can’t figure out a vaccine for this..he would just say that it’s not as important as other diseases and viruses.
    Well, my kids are all in college now, and my youngest (22yrs) is so sick. My other two moved into a hotel that’s how much they don’t want to get it.
    I had to cancel a flight to visit my elderly mom who has cancer (and I so wanted to be with her.) Because I’m fearful of giving it to her.
    I am also a bonafide puke-a-phobe (emetophobe) have been since I was a young girl.
    In this day and age, it is unexceptible that a vaccine hasn’t been developed yet. I am so proud and grateful to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and other nations to come together to develope a Norovirus vaccine, if they are able. If there is anything that we can do to help..count me in. Good Luck..!!

    My entire family had this bug in one week, and I’m praying for a vaccine because i have a phobia of vomit and so i was so stressed out, as well as everyone else is when you have the bug. 🙁

    My family works in retail and norovirus hits us all twice a year. Normally 12 hours solid. The last time was 14 hours. I have had it 6 times. Corporate employers don’t recognize how fast this can take out a workforce. People stay at work until they collapse and spread it even further. Despite every effort we still get it. It all started here 3 years ago.

    Kudos to those who are working towards a vaccination. Let’s pray that we can overcome the hurdles and move forward. I agree w/ Kimberly- this stuff was not nearly as prevalent when I was a kid 30 years ago. When we took a cruise on our honeymoon 20 yrs ago, no one really heard of people getting sick. (You’d think the cruise industry would be putting up $$ towards this effort!) I personally think the proliferation of modern-day kids’ play places has done a great job of spreading the misery to us all. Maybe some research should be done in that area.

    If my family is exposed, we all start drinking grape juice immediately. We managed to avoid being sick for Christmas after an exposure, thank heavens. Google it…I’m a believer.

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