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Scientists try cold plasma treatment on norovirus13th of February 2015
Scientists in Germany believe they have discovered a new way of neutralising the norovirus.
They claim that treating contaminated surfaces with cold atmospheric pressure plasma (CAPP) may reduce the risk of transmitting the highly contagious virus, which causes stomach pain, nausea and diarrhoea.
Scientists made this discovery after treating a stool sample - taken from a soldier infected with the norovirus - with CAPP for varying lengths of time. They observed that those samples treated for the longest time had the lowest viral load.
A study showing the findings was published on line by the journal of the American Society for Microbiology. According to senior study author Günter Klein: "The finding is exciting because noroviruses are typically very stable in the environment, resisting treatment by detergents or chlorine, freezing or heating.
"Cold plasma was able to inactivate the virus on the tested surfaces, suggesting that this method could be used for continuous disinfection of contaminated surfaces."
The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control estimates that the norovirus causes around 64,000 episodes of diarrhoea requiring hospitalisation each year. It also leads to 900,000 clinic visits among children in industrialised countries.
CAPP is a type of gas that can kill bacteria without harming surfaces or human tissues. It is already being used in the medical sector for various applications including wound-healing. Although plasma does not eliminate the norovirus completely, reducing the viral loading is still considered important since it will lower the infectious dose plus the exposure for humans.