A norovirus outbreak on a girls soccer team in Oregon was traced to a reusable plastic grocery bag, according to a new report published in the Journal of Infectious Diseases.
The report was authored by Kimberly Repp, an epidemiologist with the Washington County and William Keen, an epidemiologist with Oregon Public Health.
One girl became sick with norovirus while the team was on an October 2010 trip to Washington. She was taken home and didn't have contact with her teammates after she began showing physical symptoms of the illness.
Two days later, other members of the team became ill.
The culprit was a reusable bag, filled with food, that was in the bathroom with the girl while she was ill.
"One of the other team members not knowing that person had been sick at all, grabbed the bag of food, brought it into the team room and they passed the bag around and picked food out," said Repp.
It was an important discovery for the understanding of norovirus transmission.
Before, said Repp, scientists knew norovirus could be airborne and settle on surfaces. People who touched those surfaces could then become sick.
"What we didn't know was that you could transport one of those inanimate objects, touch them and get sick," she said. "This was the missing link between the two. The transmission of norovirus without direct person to person contact. These groups never saw each other. The only thing that went between them was this bag filled with food and that's what caused this illness."
It's also an important reminder that reusable grocery bags needs to be cleaned regularly. Repp recommends they be washed after each use.
Cloth bags can be put in the washer and dryer. Reusable plastic bags came be cleaned with a disinfectant wipe.
Copyright KPTV 2012 (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.
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