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Taking a Shot at Sinking the 'Cruise Ship' Virus

Injectable Vaccine continued...

The next step is to show that people who get the vaccine have fewer symptoms than those getting a placebo. Treanor believes the results will be better than those seen with the nasal spray, as the new vaccine stimulated a stronger response.

The results are promising, but there remain a number of major challenges to developing an effective norovirus vaccine, says Hoonmo Koo, MD, an expert on noroviruses from Baylor College of Medicine in Houston. He was not involved with the study.

"How long will the protection last?" he asks. When you recover from norovirus, natural immunity only lasts about 14 weeks, and there's not even complete immunity -- just a lower risk of getting sick again," Koo points out.

Still, "if you're going on a cruise, you only need two weeks of protection," Treanor says.

Also, the dominant strain changes from year to year. So, as with the flu virus, there needs to be active surveillance so each year's vaccine will be effective against that year's strain, Koo says.

Prevention Tips

Good hygiene is the best way to avoid catching the bug.

  • Wash your hands with soap and water especially before eating or handling food, and after using the bathroom or changing a diaper.
  • Wash all vegetables and fruits thoroughly.
  • If you're sick, use common sense: Don't prepare food for others.
  • If someone is sick with an upset stomach at home, clean and disinfect contaminated surfaces to prevent spread to others. Wash soiled clothes or linens that may be contaminated. Handle soiled items with gloves and wash your hands afterward.

These findings were presented at a medical conference. They should be considered preliminary as they have not yet undergone the "peer review" process, in which outside experts scrutinize the data prior to publication in a medical journal.

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