New route of transmission for norovirus and rotavirus discovered

Bethesda (dpa). Norovirus and rotavirus, which cause gastrointestinal infections, can also be transmitted through saliva. This was shown by research on mice and human salivary gland cells. Until now, doctors have generally assumed that infections with these viruses occur almost exclusively through the fecal-oral route: small amounts of feces, for example from contaminated food or drinking water, enter the mouth. A group led by Nihal Altan-Bonnet of the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland, United States) in the journal Nature.

“Our results draw attention to infection of the salivary glands by enteric viruses and saliva as a potentially more important route of transmission through coughing, sneezing, and kissing than the accepted route of transmission, fecal contamination,” the researchers write. The results indicate that hygiene measures, in addition to those that prevent the spread of faeces, may be necessary to prevent the transmission of enteric viruses in the community.

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