Your blood type may prevent you from getting norovirus

In the last few months, schools throughout the nation have closed as a consequence of outbreaks of norovirus. Also known as stomach flu, norovirus infections set off watery diarrhea, low-grade fever and, most alarming of all, projectile vomiting, which is a particularly environment-friendly methodology of spreading the virus.

Norovirus may be very infectious and spreads shortly by the use of confined inhabitants, much like at a university or on a cruise ship. Although most victims recuperate in 24 to 48 hours, norovirus is a primary purpose behind childhood illness and, in creating nations, ends in about 50,000 teenage deaths yearly.

Interestingly, not everybody appears to be equally weak to the virus, and whether or not or not you get sick or not may rely on your blood type.


I am a microbiologist, and I purchased severe about norovirus because of, whereas norovirus indicators are distressing beneath any circumstances, my encounter with the virus was notably inconvenient. During a seven-day rafting journey down the Grand Canyon, the illness handed by the use of the rafters and crew, one after the opposite. Obviously, the wilderness sanitary companies weren’t the best to take care of this outbreak. Luckily, everyone, along with me, recovered shortly. It appears that norovirus outbreaks on Colorado River rafting journeys are widespread.

As debilitating as a result of the illness it causes could possibly be, the norovirus particle is visually gorgeous. It is a type of virus known as “non-enveloped” or “naked,” which suggests that it under no circumstances acquires the membrane coating typical of various viruses, such due to the flu virus. The norovirus ground is a protein coat, referred to as the “capsid.” The capsid protects the norovirus’ genetic supplies.

The naked capsid coat is one problem that makes norovirus so powerful to control. Viruses with membrane coatings are weak to alcohol and detergents, nonetheless not so norovirus. Norovirus can survive temperatures from freezing to 145 ranges Fahrenheit (regarding essentially the most water temperature in a home dishwasher), cleansing cleaning soap and delicate choices of bleach. Norovirus can persist on human palms for hours and on secure surfaces and meals for days and can be proof of alcohol-based hand sanitizers.

To make points worse, solely a tiny dose of the virus – as few as 10 viral particles – is required to set off sickness. Given that a contaminated particular person can excrete many billions of viral particles, it’s very powerful to prevent the virus from spreading.


When norovirus is ingested, it initially infects the cells that line the small intestine. Researchers don’t know exactly how this an infection then causes the indicators of the sickness. But a fascinating side of norovirus is that, after publicity, blood type determines, in a giant half, whether or not or not a person will get sick.

Your blood type – A, B, AB or O – is dictated by genes that resolve which types of molecules, referred to as oligosaccharides, are found on the ground of your crimson blood cells. Oligosaccharides are made from varied sorts of sugars linked collectively in sophisticated strategies.

The equivalent oligosaccharides on crimson blood cells moreover appear on the ground of cells that line the small intestine. Norovirus and a few completely different viruses use these oligosaccharides to grab onto and infect the intestinal cells. It’s the exact development of these oligosaccharides that decide whether or not or not given stress of a virus can join and invade.

The presence of 1 oligosaccharide, referred to as the H1-antigen, is required for attachment by many norovirus strains.

People who do not make H1-antigen of the make-up of their intestinal cell 20% of the European-derived inhabitants and are proof towards many strains of norovirus.

More sugars could possibly be hooked as much as the H1-antigen to supply the A, B or AB blood varieties. People who can’t make the A and B modifications have the O blood type.


Norovirus evolves shortly. There are 29 fully completely different strains presently recognized to infect individuals, and each stress has fully completely different variants. Each one has fully completely different abilities to bind to the variously fashioned sugar molecules on the intestinal cell ground. These sugars are determined by blood type.

If a gaggle of people is uncovered to the stress of norovirus, who will get sick will depend on each particular person’s blood type. But, if the equivalent group of people is uncovered to definite stress of norovirus, fully completely different people may be resistant or weak. In regular, those who do not make the H1-antigen and different individuals with B blood type will are normally resistant, whereas people with A, AB, or O blood varieties will tend to get sick, nonetheless, the pattern will depend on the exact stress of norovirus.

This distinction in susceptibility has an enchanting consequence. When an outbreak occurs, for example, on a cruise ship, roughly a third of the people may escape an infection. Because they do not know the underlying goal for his or her resistance, I consider spared people engage in magical pondering – for example, “I didn’t get sick because I drank a lot of grape juice.” Of course, these legendary evasive methods shouldn’t be going to work if the next outbreak is stress to which the particular person is weak.


A norovirus an infection provokes a robust immune response that eliminates the virus in only a few days. However, the response appears to be short-lived. Most analysis has found that immunity guarding in opposition to reinfection with the equivalent norovirus stress lasts a decrease than six months. Also, infection with one stress of norovirus gives little security in opposition to an infection from one difference. Thus, you can have repeated bouts with norovirus.

The vary of norovirus strains and the impermanence of the immune response complicate the expansion of an environment-friendly vaccine. Currently, scientific trials are testing the outcomes of vaccines made from the capsid proteins of the 2 most prevalent norovirus strains.

In regular, these experimental vaccines produce good immune responses; the longevity of the immune response is now beneath analysis. The subsequent part of scientific trials will check out if the vaccines really prevent or cut back the indicators of norovirus infection.

Patricia L. Foster, Professor Emerita of Biology, Indiana University

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