New York, Feb 12: For pizza lovers, here is another cheesy news: a substance in pizza is effective against Norovirus – also known as the winter vomiting disease – which is a leading cause of vomiting and diarrhoea around the world.
Carvacrol – the substance in oregano oil that gives the pizza herb its distinctive warm, aromatic smell and flavour – is effective against norovirus, causing the breakdown of the virus’ tough outer coat, shows new research.
Norovirus is particularly problematic in nursing homes, hospitals, cruise ships and schools.
It is a very common cause of foodborne-disease outbreaks.
“Carvacrol could potentially be used as a food sanitiser and possibly as a surface sanitiser with other antimicrobials. It has a unique way of attacking the virus which makes it an interesting prospect,” said Kelly Bright, who led the research at the University of Arizona.
Although the disease is unpleasant, most people recover fully within a few days.
But for people with an existing serious medical problem, this highly infectious virus can be dangerous.
In the experiments on mice, carvacrol appeared to act directly on the virus capsid – a tough layer of proteins that surrounds the virus – causing it to break down.
This would give another antimicrobial the opportunity to enter the internal part of the virus and kill it.
So if carvacrol is used as a sanitizer in the future, it’s likely to be in conjunction with another antimicrobial.
And because it is slower acting than many disinfectants, such as bleach, it would be best used as part of a routine cleaning regimen to provide long-lasting antimicrobial residue on surfaces.
The good news is that because carvacrol acts on the external proteins of the virus, it is unlikely that norovirus would ever develop resistance, said the study.
This, however, does not mean that eating large amount of pizza could prevent norovirus!
Concentrated carvacrol, although non-toxic, would be quite unpalatable, causing a burning sensation and then numbness of the tongue, said the research published in the Society for Applied Microbiology’s Journal of Applied Microbiology.