Noroviruses are a group of viruses that cause inflammation of the stomach and large intestine lining (gastroenteritis). Norovirus is a small virus that is highly contagious. People acquire the virus by ingesting material contaminated with small amounts of infected feces or fluids. Food and water may be contaminated during processing or handling. Norovirusesare sometimes called food poisoning, because they can be transmitted through food that’s been contaminated with the virus.
Causes of Noroviruses Infection
Infection occurs when humans inadvertently ingest material contaminated with small amounts of fluids or feces from an infected person. It only takes a small number of viruses to cause infection, so even microscopic amounts of feces or fluids can be contagious. An infected person with vomiting or diarrhea can contaminate their environment directly or spread virus particles through aerosolized droplets when throwing up. Contamination may also occur in food and/or in water, which has led to infection spreading widely in restaurants or aboard cruise ships. Outbreaks in school systems can occur regularly.
Symptoms of Noroviruses Infection
Not all people who are infected with a Norovirus will develop symptoms. If symptoms of a Norovirus infection do occur, the illness tends to begin suddenly. Common Norovirussymptoms include:-
- Watery diarrhea
- Some stomach cramping
Less common symptoms of Norovirus can include:-
- Low-grade fever
- Muscle aches
- General sense of tiredness.
Time Period of Noroviruses Infection
Norovirus may have a prolonged infection period that starts even before a patient gets sick. There is a short lag (up to two days) between the time that people acquire the virus and the time they get symptoms. People may be contagious during this period. All people are contagious while they are having symptoms. Even people who appear to have recovered completely after a norovirus infection may continue to shed the virus for weeks in their stool and may be a source of infection to others.
Treatment or Medication for Norovirus
There is no specific treatment or medication for norovirus. It is important that infected individuals remain well hydrated, drinking plenty of fluids. Fluids containing electrolytes and sugars should be encouraged. Over the counter Anti-Diarrheal Medications may be used according to directions but should be avoided in cases with severe abdominal pain or fever. Some researchers advise people to avoid these medications if possible as they may prolong the disease.
Preventions of Noroviruses Infections
Good hygiene is the key to preventing an infection with norovirus, especially when you are in close surroundings with a lot of other people.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 15 seconds, or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer, especially after going to the bathroom or changing a baby’s diaper, and before you prepare or eat food.
- Carefully dispose of any contaminated items (such as dirty diapers).
- Wash raw fruits and vegetables thoroughly. Cook oysters and other shellfish before eating them.
- Clean and disinfect surfaces with a mixture of detergent and chlorine bleach after someone is sick.
- If you have norovirus, don’t prepare food for at least two to three days after you feel better. Try not to eat food that has been prepared by someone else who is sick.