NBA players not immune to serious illness from norovirus

October 31, 2011

A new study describes a 2010 outbreak involving several NBA teams, the first known report of a norovirus outbreak in a professional sports association. Published in Clinical Infectious Diseases and available online, the study highlights unique circumstances for spreading this highly contagious virus among players and staff on and off the court.

Norovirus is the most common cause of gastroenteritis outbreaks in the United States; it is responsible for about 21 million cases of illness in the country each year. Study author Rishi Desai, MD, MPH, and colleagues from the found that as many as 13 NBA teams located in 11 different states were affected by a norovirus outbreak from November to December 2010. "We confirmed that norovirus spread within at least one team and possibly from one team to another," said Dr. Desai. "Overall, 21 players and three staff from 13 teams were affected."

Rigorous sports schedules and close interactions between athletes and staff put them at increased risk for norovirus infection, the study authors note. Athletes and staff spend a lot of time together in closed spaces—in buses and airplanes, locker rooms, and on the court. Norovirus can spread easily and quickly in such spaces -- through the air and on objects and surfaces where it can be infectious for days or weeks. Infected persons can shed billions of virus particles, making it very infective. Even the best hygiene and cleaning may not get rid of the virus since it resists common disinfectants.

Teams can limit norovirus transmission by keeping ill athletes off the court during games and practice, the study suggests, and by avoiding contact with athletes and staff when they are ill and up to 24 hours after recovery. Strict personal hygiene, including hand washing with soap and water, disinfecting common spaces with a sodium hypochlorite solution, and early reporting are critical for limiting transmission.

The benefits of preventing norovirus infection are clear -- healthier teams with fewer who are ill and on the disabled list.

More information: http://www.oxfordjournals.org/our_journals/cid/prpaper.pdf

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Viruses thrive in big families, in sickness and in health

August 5, 2015

The BIG LoVE (Utah Better Identification of Germs-Longitudinal Viral Epidemiology) study, led by scientists at the University of Utah School of Medicine, finds that each bundle of joy puts the entire household at increased ...

Antibody found that fight MERS coronavirus

July 28, 2015

(Medical Xpress)—An international team of researchers has found a MERS neutralizing antibody—a discovery that could perhaps lead to a treatment for people infected with the virus. In their paper published in Proceedings ...

Experimental MERS vaccine shows promise in animal studies

July 28, 2015

A two-step regimen of experimental vaccines against Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) prompted immune responses in mice and rhesus macaques, report National Institutes of Health scientists who designed the vaccines. ...

Can social isolation fuel epidemics?

July 21, 2015

Conventional wisdom has it that the more people stay within their own social groups and avoid others, the less likely it is small disease outbreaks turn into full-blown epidemics. But the conventional wisdom is wrong, according ...

Lack of knowledge on animal disease leaves humans at risk

July 20, 2015

Researchers from the University of Sydney have painted the most detailed picture to date of major infectious diseases shared between wildlife and livestock, and found a huge gap in knowledge about diseases which could spread ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.