The norovirus, a common and contagious stomach virus, has been determined in a study to cost $64 billion in loss of productivity on a worldwide scale. Two-thirds of the registered costs of treating the disease are attributed to patients younger than five years old.

Norovirus has been registered to claim the lives of nearly 219,000 people a year, adding further health care expenses while also worsening employee health conditions.

A common and contagious stomach virus, known as norovirus, has been determined to cost $64 billion worldwide. Credit:

Dealing with norovirus

It is estimated that most people will get infected with norovirus at least 5 times in their lives, which, if not treated right, can lead to severe dehydration and consequently death. Common symptoms include vomiting, diarrhea, and nausea. A vaccine has not been yet developed nor there is any specific treatment that is able to suppress the effects of the virus.

The best way to prevent getting infected with norovirus or spreading it to somebody else is to wash hands regularly and to prevent contact with infected people’s mucus and saliva.

The research was led by scientists from the John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Maryland. Computer models were used to determine the costs of treating and dealing with norovirus, taking into account the economic loss of productivity.

230 countries were examined by using information provided by the United Nations and the data was analyzed by calculating health care costs, mortality, costs in loss of productivity and missed work days due to sickness.

The balance turned out to be $4.2 billion for medical treatment and $60.3 billion for people having to refrain from going to work; the costs associated with norovirus surpassed the costs associated with retrovirus and Campylobacter combined.

Norovirus is able to infect anyone, ranging from the wealthy to the poor. There is no restriction as to how many times can you get infected by it. Although the best method of dealing with the disease is prevention, lead author of the study Dr. Bruce Y. Lee stated that there is “substantial need for a vaccine,” and even if it’s not perfect, it would have an important impact on the costs that stem from treating infected patients.

The virus spreads on a frequent basis, but news reports only take into consideration the consequences surrounding an outbreak, such as the one that occurred on one of Boston’s Chipotle franchises. Outbreaks involving norovirus are rare, as only 1 percent of infection cases can be related to such events.

Source: PLOS ONE