A substance found in oregano oil could be helpful in killing norovirus, according to a new study in mice.
Researchers from the University of Arizona found that carvacrol, which is responsible for the aromatic smell and taste of oregano oil, is able to break down the tough protein layer surrounding norovirus, called the virus capsid. This would then enable another antimicrobial to go into the virus and kill it.
The compound was tested on a mouse form of norovirus, researchers noted. "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," study researcher Dr. Kelly Bright said in a statement.
The findings are published in the Journal of Applied Microbiology.
Norovirus, which causes gastroenteritis (with symptoms of nausea, diarrhea, fever and cramping), was responsible for more than 600 people falling ill on a recent Royal Caribbean cruise. It's highly contagious, and can be spread either through air droplets, person-to-person or through contaminated food and drink. Not all disinfectants are able to kill norovirus, though chlorine bleach is effective at disinfecting infected areas.