A large part of NoroCORE’s mission is outreach, particularly in the form of providing information to consumers and health-related groups. We wanted to share one such story as an example of NoroCORE lending its expertise to help the general public.
For many, norovirus is simply an unpleasant experience, but for some the topic alone is anxiety-inducing. Emetophobia, or the fear of vomiting, is a clinically-documented phobia with a wide range of symptoms. People with emetophobia may avoid things that can make them nauseous, such as certain foods, alcoholic beverages, medications, amusement park rides, air or sea travel, and pregnancy. They may also avoid hospitals or being around people who are ill, or avoid eating out because they are concerned about the level of food safety outside of their kitchen. One unfortunate aspect of the phobia is that it is hard to avoid what triggers the fear. Unlike avoiding air travel or being around dogs if we are afraid of flying or being bitten, we need to eat every day, and coming into contact with germs and viruses is unavoidable. We humans also like to make meals a social event, contributing to the issues faced by people dealing with emetophobia.
Understandably, the vomiting that can go along with a norovirus infection makes it a big concern for people with emetophobia. Add on the fact that norovirus is the most common cause of food-borne illness in the United States, is highly contagious, persists in the environment, and is resistant to disinfection, and you can see why we offered our expertise when the Emetophobia Recovery System contacted us about human noroviruses. A representative from the Emetophobia Recovery System contacted NoroCORE’s lead investigator, Dr. Lee-Ann Jaykus, with highly-detailed questions on the current state of knowledge on noroviruses. Dispelling myths and having the facts about a source of anxiety can often greatly reduce the burden of that anxiety.
The NoroCORE staff worked closely with the Emetophobia Recovery System on developing their educational content, as both groups wanted to provide the best information possible to people seeking help with emetophobia. This work culminated in a detailed article that was just posted on the Emetophobia Recovery System’s website. The article covers the basics of norovirus, as well as some useful information on general food safety practices. Included with the article is an infographic on the nuts and bolts of what you need to know about norovirus, developed by the Emetophobia Recovery System with NoroCORE’s editorial input. Hopefully, the fruits of this joint endeavor will become a valuable resource for consumers, and help allay the anxieties of those suffering from emetophobia.