What is Norovirus?
Have you ever had a stomach flu or stomach bug? Officially known as gastroenteritis, these stomach illnesses can cause diarrhea, vomiting, and abdominal pain. While they are not related to the influenza virus, they can make you just as sick for just as long.
Norovirus infections are extremely contagious and are the most common cause of gastroenteritis. According to the CDC, norovirus contributes to about 56,000-71,000 hospitalizations and 570-800 deaths each year.
How Can I Prevent the Spread of Norovirus?
Norovirus is foodborne and spreads through contact with infected persons, contaminated food or water, or contaminated surfaces. Wash your hands regularly and thoroughly, especially after using the bathroom or touching trash and before handling food. If you’re sick, it's best to let others prepare your food for you. Assuming you're well, remember to always wash fruits, vegetables, and seafood before eating. Of course, none of this matters if you are preparing your food on a contaminated surface. Clean and disinfect cutting boards and preparation tables before and after preparing food.
What Are Some Symptoms of Norovirus?
Symptoms of norovirus include nausea, vomiting, abdominal pains and cramps, diarrhea, weight loss, fatigue, chills, headache, muscle aches, and fever. In most cases, symptoms will develop 12-48 hours after exposure and will typically last 2-3 days. Because it is extremely contagious, you should refrain from handling food for an additional 2-3 days after you feel better.
How is Norovirus Treated?
Due to the fact that it is a virus, norovirus cannot be treated with antibiotics. Currently there are no drugs that treat the virus itself. The main thing you will want to focus on is preventing dehydration caused by vomiting and diarrhea. Drink lots of clear liquids. Pedialyte is also a great option for both children and adults. Norovirus can be exhausting, so get plenty of rest and limit your activity for a speedy recovery.