Norovirus is a type of virus that primarily causes gastrointestinal problems. It is very contagious and is commonly spread from contaminated food or water. It also can be spread through a surface that has been contaminated or from another infected person. Norovirus, which causes 19 to 21 million illnesses in the United States every year, can be dangerous and even life-threatening in some instances.
Symptoms of Noroviruses
If a person has a typical norovirus infection, the symptoms often feel like a particularly nasty “stomach bug.” They include nausea, vomiting, stomach pain and diarrhea. Sometimes, body aches, headache and fever may also be present. The person may vomit or have diarrhea many times a day so it becomes important to stay hydrated.
The illness usually passes in one to three days, but it’s best to see a doctor if it persists or if the symptoms are particularly troubling. Also be on the lookout for any of the signs of dehydration, such as dark urine, a dry mouth or throat or dizziness.
Prevention and Treatment
Because norovirus is commonly transmitted by contaminated food, good food preparation practices are very important. Wash all fruits and vegetables thoroughly, and cook meats, especially seafood, to their recommended temperatures. Also practice good hand-washing and hygiene at all times. And, be sure to clean surfaces that have come in contact with food very well.
Once people become sick, cleaning surfaces they may have touched and washing their clothes is very important to preventing transmission.
Norovirus does not respond to antibiotics, so the best treatment is replacing lost fluids with water or sports drinks. It’s very important to avoid dehydration with norovirus, as this can lead to serious complications.
People with norovirus should be monitored closely and should seek medical help if symptoms worsen or do not improve within a day or two.
SOURCE: U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention