Pizza seasoning component may fight off winter vomiting virus

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Originally published on February 12, 2014

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A substance in pizza seasoning can destroy norovirus by breaking down its capsid coat, according to a report by a University of Arizona research team published on Wednesday (February 12).

Norovirus can be readily transmitted via contaminated food or water, or by contact with another human being. The virus replicate within human host cells and infects them, causing gastroenteritis characterized by severe vomiting, diarrhea, and stomach pain.

Norovirus infection is the most common cause of vomiting and diarrhea in the world. Nursing homes, hospitals, cruise ships, and schools are especially vulnerable to outbreaks.

Carvacrol is a compound found in oregano, which is commonly used in pizza seasoning. The compound directly breaks down the virus' tough outer capsid, causing the virus to lose its ability to infect cells.

"Carvacrol could potentially be used as a food sanitizer and possibly as a surface sanitiser, particularly in conjunction with other antimicrobials," Kelly Bright, professor and head of the research team at University of Arizona, said in a press release. "We have some work to do to assess its potential but carvacrol has a unique way of attacking the virus, which makes it an interesting prospect."

"Carvacrol does not act as quickly as bleach, which will act in minutes or even seconds, but it is still effective," Bright said in an Arizona Indian Express report. And since carvacrol is a plant compound, it is regarded as safe for human consumption.

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