I know this is a weird thing to have here, but ever since I read about this noro story, back in 2005 as a 25-year-old down-desk writer in a dark corner on the third floor of Times House, I have been totally fascinated by it.
It’s the first time I became aware that the norovirus even existed, having never caught it or known anyone who caught it (IS it just me, or is noro quite a new thing? Not around in the 80s?) and I was horrified and captivated by the tale, which goes like this:
After a Charlatans concert in Abderdeen’s Music Hall in 2004, 500 of the 1,500 concert-goers were struck down with severe vomiting and diarrhoea. No-one knew how or why or what had happened: was it food-poisoning? Some other airborne toxin?
It was so strange and so scary – possibly a genuine health crisis – that the local health authority, NHS Grampian, produced an entire scientific report into what happened, which you can read here.
It isn’t very long and I find it fascinating, but if you can’t be bothered to read it, the conclusion is that all of those people got noro from one single person vomiting on the steps outside the concert hall before the performance.
Everyone stepped in it as they walked into the venue and there you have it. You only need 100 virus particles to start an infection and a single vomit releases 30 million.
I don’t know why I think this is so interesting, possibly it’s just a demonstration of the awesome and unstoppable power of nature, which I find amusing to gawp at (I’m also to frightened to watch Planet Earth and so have to find amusement elsewhere).
The Millers Tale says
Noro was around in the early nineties because my son contracted it on his first birthday and spewed what looked like white foam all over his birthday cake and the floor of the rather chi-chi place we’d taken him to celebrate.
Within days, the entire family except me had come down with it, including my executive chef brother who had the indignity of having to provide two months of stool samples before he was allowed to return to work. The only reason I think I didn’t contract it was because I was working as a psych nurse back then and was absolutely obsessive about handwashing and hygiene. Still am, and I have only had one cold /flu in ten years. (Not boasting, just stressing the importance of handwashing and no face touching.)
I have a crackpot theory that norovirus, like rotavirus, has some airborne capacity. I know that’s not generally acknowledged but it’s just so bloody infectious that this must be the case – possibly not every time, all the time, but maybe sometimes?
I read the report and found it fascinating. I’m convinced that it spreads through contact. Think of how many times in a day you touch something that other people have? Stair rails, door handles, shopping trolleys, ATMs, even button for pedestrian crossing! Hand washing is so important yet I have seen women leave public loos without washing hands. I use a tissue when I’m leaving rather than touch door handle. But that’s probably just me!
Hand washing is absolutely crucial prevention. Although, I work in dentistry and I literally caught everything going my first 2 years post-qualifying- we work in a uniquely gross environment where lots of aerosol/air born particles are created, so already at a disadvantage! I like to think my immune system is scwartzenegger strength after years of repeated exposure! Kids are a different kettle of fish, dirty little blighters…. (just watched my 5yo licking the steady stream of snot currently flowing freely from both nostrils, boak! 😵)
(Whispers) My son has never been sick. Not once. Had to explain to him what it was when his friends got it. He still doesn’t really understand what happens and how it involves food “It comes back?” He says with a confused and horrified expression, like I’ve explained the plot of Pet Semetary. He’s five and a half and it’s been at his school. His toddler sister got something a few weeks ago, temperature, one vomit and done. No one else got it. I am really strict about hand washing when they come in and before eating, but I guess most people are so perhaps there’s a genetic element? You all hate me now. I am the weak member of the herd though. I’ve had it once from work pre children and actually thought I might die, so I’m terrified of it, but managed to not pass it on to my husband so not sure about the airborne thing.
Also, I know loads of people who don’t observe the 48 hour thing as stated in that report, so I suppose it often spreads when people think they are well again, but are still actually contagious.
Eilidh McDonald says
My daughter had never vomited up until about year ago (she’s now seven)- it involved her panicking and involuntarily doing the splits (which was simultaneously horrifying and hilarious) as she cried out between projectile retches: ‘I’m so sorry it’s gone on the rug’. .
The poor, poor girl! Worrying about the rug, too. I fear it’s going to be terrible when it does happen, he is so sensitive he will take it personally.
It started in Aberdeen????
Is this what we’re famous for???
Wow honestly I’ve never been more proud of my hometown.
I don’t think it *started* in Aberdeen…
I am literally triggered by noro, it sets me panicking like nothing else even if I read about someone 200 miles away having it. I’ve had it a few times (three children does that) and never cease to be terrified of the midnight retch coming from the children’s rooms. Dettol. Dettol the world.
Another true obsessive about these things. Most enjoyed the track changes being left on the document though..
Elisabeth Heien says
My daughter vomited once at the age of six, first time since she was a baby so it was her first conscious experience of being thoroughly and terrifyingly sick. All over her bed. And through her nose. It was such a bad experience that she declared she would “NEVER do that again!”. A promise she kept until she got food poisoning at 16 while we were in Mallorca, and threw up in the hotel shower before fainting, causing a major upheaval, everyone rushing around trying to help. Has not done it since, and she’s 28 now. She says she just refuses to throw up. I wonder what stuff she’s made of….
Is it just me that punches the ATM numbers with a knuckle and opens the door when leaving public loos with the little finger of my left hand? I also love a good dollop of anti-bacterial gel on my hands before eating if I’m out and about. Morbid fear of sickness since hideous projectile vomiting scenario prior to gall-bladder removal.
We had it about five years ago, via my youngest daughter’s nursery. They closed it for two days as so many were down with it, including staff. I hate being sick and it scared my eldest daughter who thought she was going to die. I go into overdrive with hand washing, anti bacterial everything at the first whiff of a sickness bug at school or work now.
You really need to google “Vomiting Larry”
I get paid to read reports like this – part of my job YAY. I’m excited about all the track changes.
When I read the title I knew knew it would be this story. Am sinilarly fascinated. See also Daily Mail articles about cruise ships where everyone gets Noro. Rivetting.
Totally fascinating! Yes love those cruise ship noro tales
Wow this is like a vomity version of Dr Pimple popper!