Norovirus, the most common cause of gastroenteritis in the world, can be killed with “cold plasma,” researchers in Germany have reported.
The virus, which elicits vomiting and diarrhoea, has gained international notoriety for causing outbreaks on cruise ships.
However, such incidents represent merely a fraction of the tens of millions of cases that occur around the world each year.
The research appears in mBio journal.
Preventing norovirus outbreaks is complicated by the fact that the virus is highly resistant to several different chemical disinfectants.
Bleach, a chlorine-based solution, is currently the most effective treatment, but researchers are seeking more convenient alternatives.
One such alternative is cold plasma, also known as non-thermal plasma. This “fourth state of matter” consists of ionised gas molecules at room temperature. These ions can destroy many kinds of microbes, but their effect on viruses was less clear.
A team of scientists led by Dr Birte Ahlfeld and Prof Günter Klein at the University of Veterinary Medicine in Hannover examined the effect of cold plasma on a strain of norovirus isolated from a human faecal sample taken during an outbreak at a military base in Germany.
Cold plasma treatment led to a roughly 20- to 50-fold reduction in the number of virus particles.
Read more: ‘Cold plasma’ kills off norovirus
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