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No one safe from vomiting bug: study

TT/Tom Sullivan · 24 Jan 2010, 15:33

Published: 24 Jan 2010 15:33 GMT+01:00

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The sickness, brought on by the norovirus, has swept across Swedish hospitals and nursing homes in recent days causing nausea, vomiting and diarrhea and forcing the temporary closure of wards.

While a fifth of the population was previously thought to have a genetic immunity to the bug, the virus now appears to have mutated, making the entire population vulnerable to infection.

"This virus mutates all the time," Lennart Svensson, professor of molecular virology at Linköping's University told TT news agency.

"But this is the first time that we've been able to link a mutation to a change in symptoms or the spread of the infection."

Researchers at Linköping University believe anti-vomiting drugs given to patients receiving radiation treatment may provide a treatment for the worst symptoms of the bug.

Story continues below…

"We think that the same nerves cause the vomiting, both in cancer treatments and in patients with the winter vomiting bug," said professor Svensson.

TT/Tom Sullivan (news@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

19:41 January 24, 2010 by jack sprat
Apparently all those affected had either visited a dodgy kebab joint or recently drank crap Swedish beer,..........or was it the thought of bag lady Sahlin winning the next election?
21:03 January 24, 2010 by Gretchen
How come this bug only exists in Sweden and we have never heard of in other parts of Europe?
22:19 January 24, 2010 by StockholmSam

It exists all over the world, even in the US. But before I came to Sweden, I had never experienced it. In 35 years in America, I had never noticed it. However, two things changed in my life that brought me face-to-face with the infamous vinterkräksjuka...I have a young child in dagis and I ride the metro. The virus is rampant in daycares in Sweden. Since I knew few people in America with young kids in daycare, I was not exposed do it. Also, I had my own care in the States. Here in Stockholm, where I ride the T-bana every day along with a bazillion other people, viruses spread like wildfire. I have heard that this is the exact same virus that infects whole ships filled with passengers that you hear about every three years or so. Apparently, large numbers of people in confined spaces is the common denominator. I have not figured out why it strikes Sweden only in winter, though, unless the winter pushes people indoors where they cram together like on the metro. I can say this, if this sickness is not seen in other parts of Europe, then I am getting the hell outta Sweden...vinterkräksjuka is one nasty bug and reason enough to leave this place.
22:25 January 24, 2010 by peropaco
In other parts of the world it is known as Gastro and what this perfunctory article fail to mention is that the vomiting bug is accompanied with a side order of the runs :-))))
23:39 January 24, 2010 by xenyasai
@Gretchen: It exist in other parts of Europe too, just not on such a large scale. It is not unique for Sweden. You can get it in Norway, Germany or any other country.

The difference though that I have noticed is that the Swedish media has this huge love for 'vinterkräksjukan'. The second someone gets it, it is all over the news. I remembered once when there was a lot of algae or bacteria at certain lakes or close to the coast, a lot of people got sick and the symptoms was similar to 'vinterkräksjukan'. The Swedish media instantly called it 'vinterkräksjukan'. So that year they reported 'vinterkräksjukan' all year.

It is not uncommon that Norway gets it bad, but not as bad as Sweden. A doctor I went to had a theory though. Sugar can actually lower your immune system in your stomach; and around Christmas, at least the Nordics, eat a lot of candy and sweet stuff.

It can also be a issue with how people react to the 'vinterkräksjuka'. Many people ignore the fact that even if your are symptom free you are still highly contagious for up to three days or something. As some employers have the attitude that as long as you can stand up, regardless if you have a extremely high fever and blood coming out of your nose you should come to work.

It would be interesting if they found out why 'vinterkräksjukan' hits Sweden so bad as it does. It spreads like wild fire there when it hits Sweden, while in Norway for some odd reason the number of sick people there are much lower. When they almost each year have to close down a ward or five they need to look into why it spreads so aggressively.

If you ever were to invade Sweden, do it when 'vinterkräksjukan' is at its peak as half of Sweden will be on the toilet for days.
01:02 January 25, 2010 by Puffin
This virus is well known all over Europe - last year it caused countless school closures in the UK - but is more often known as novavirus
03:30 January 25, 2010 by Davey-jo
In Hull, where I live, the local hospital regularly closes wards for the "Norvalks Virus". It's so predictable you could run a book on it. It's poor cleaning that causes this and at the back of that is lack of money to clean the wards properly. The UK is like a third country at times.
07:55 January 25, 2010 by Nemesis
In Irleand north and south it is referred to as the winter vommitting bug.

I have seen public health officers form the NHS on the news talking about it giving advice on the news in the past.

It is well known all over Europe, sometimes by different names.

Also peropaco has a very good point. The winter vommiting bug is definately accompanied by diarhrea.
08:47 January 25, 2010 by dammen
Having just spent the last week in bed with the same bug and now with my four yr old home, I can only say that ...this is something we have to look forward to every year here in SWeden. I never came across this bug in the Uk - you heard of it, but here well it is part of winter life. I also have noticed over the years that SWeden is particularly hard hit with this virus every year and I would agree with one comment above - hygiene does have a part to play (as with all viruses) and there is a little lack of this here and at the same time Swedes do consume vast amounts of godis and fika a lot so maybe there is something in the sugar idea.
09:18 January 25, 2010 by franny66
Well swedes dont wash their hands after visits to the toilets, its nearly as bad as the UK that way, which is not good
10:09 January 25, 2010 by Malmoimm
This bug is world wide, the name 'winter puking disease' is a special swedish term that no english person would normally be family with. In North America you would most likely say you had a 24-48hr flu or use the name of the virus , norovirus. Actual flu's (caused by influenza viruses) are a week long or more affairs with fever and all the fun that goes with. Anything where you are puking etc for just a couple of days is this or food poisoning.
13:01 January 25, 2010 by peropaco
I just figured out why this bug is widely spread in Sweden. Many of the lunch places has open buffet and people with colds and viruses just cough straight into the food. So it goes straight out from their mouths into yours..
13:13 January 25, 2010 by Swedecakes
From the UK, comes this very brief and succinct article about the virus:


Conclusion: Wash your hands!
13:59 January 25, 2010 by jhk
I heard that cold weather (very cold) causes the mutation rate to rise.

Also having good day care for kids helps it spread, especially the under 5's.

You know you love your kids when you have to pick up a 3 year old and give her a hug at 2 in the morning when she is covered head to foot in puke having rolled in it. oh the joy of parenthood.
16:06 January 25, 2010 by franny66
Swedes are big softies they pick up everything...when on holidays they are always sick...ask a doctor once in Greece which country gets sick most a he answer the swedes LOL
16:41 January 25, 2010 by Henckel
I'm just glad it's been confirmed to be a virus, and not merely bacteria as we had been wrongly taught for years here in the USA.
17:03 January 25, 2010 by Princess P
The reason you hear about it more in Sweden is because it occurs more in Sweden. The reason being that bleach isn't widely used here. Domestos, kills all known germs. Dead.
20:44 January 25, 2010 by danyel
I live in the US and am recovering from norovirus, winter vomiting bug, or what ever you want to call it... it is rampant here in the Southern US, so cold weather does not necessarily play a part. It may not necessary occur more in Sweden than other parts of the world, it is just that (at least in the US) people getting sick does not make the news - unless they have Swine Flu.
22:20 January 25, 2010 by aaronh21
This is very common in the UK my fiancée is a nurse and she has had 6 times in 4 years, not very nice at all. Although I've managed to avoid it so far, people you have any sort of in tolerance like dairy or wheat are more likely to get the bug. Single malt seems to keep it at bay though.:)
10:36 January 27, 2010 by Dimetrodon61
I believe the name used in USA is "stomach flu" -it is what caused George H. Bush to puke during a photo session in Japan a couple of decades ago....
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