3 BRILLIANT MINUTES: How to beat the norovirus and why disinfectant wipes shouldn’t be flushed down the toilet

Disinfectant wipes are an environmental hazard
Published: Apr. 12, 2023 at 5:20 PM CDT
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GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) - It’s nasty, highly contagious and will last for a minimum of three days: The norovirus is commonly also known as the stomach flu, or food poisoning.

It causes diarrhea, vomiting, stomach pain, cramping, fever, nausea and headaches. People catch it by having body contact with an already infected person, contaminated water or touching contaminated surfaces.

However, now there is a new approach that targets the virus, reported by the Washington University School of Medicine. Researchers succeeded in developing a vaccine by piggybacking on the highly effective vaccines for the rotavirus. They inserted a gene for a protein that forms the outer surface of the human norovirus into the genome of the rotavirus.

Two doses were given to mice: An initial oral dose and an injection nine weeks later. After that, a strong antibody response was seen in the intestines. As a result, experiments are now under way to assess the effectiveness of the vaccine in other animals.

In other scientific news: Disinfectant wipes became very popular during the pandemic. Consumers still buy them at a brisk pace - 1.63 million tons of the wet wipes will be produced in 2023 globally, an industry encompassing $ 2.84 billion.

Most of those wipes are made from a mixture of natural and synthetic fibers, and the majority contain plastic. They also contain chemicals like cleaning agents. When they are flushed down the toilet, they become a major environmental hazard as they are a source of microplastic pollution. Also, the material tends to clog sewers and cause blockages.

Therefore, the best advice is: Just toss them in the garbage after using them.