What is Norovirus: Causes, Symptoms, Gastroenteritis, and Treatment

Another day, another virus, and another outbreak. Scary isn’t it? Not if we know everything about it, the do’s and don’ts, the indispensable habits, and everything we need to keep it under control. Learn about Norovirus and how it turns into an epidemic? Norovirus infection can cause sudden onset of severe vomiting and diarrhea. The virus is highly contagious and usually spreads through contaminated food or water during preparation or through contaminated surfaces. You can also become infected through close contact with an infected person.

Diarrhea, stomach pain, and vomiting usually begin 12 to 48 hours after exposure. Norovirus symptoms usually last one to three days, and most people recover completely without treatment. However, for some people—particularly infants, the elderly, and people with underlying illness—vomiting and diarrhea can cause severe dehydration and require medical attention.

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What is Norovirus?

Norovirus causes gastrointestinal illness, which includes symptoms such as gastroenteritis, severe vomiting, and diarrhea. Norovirus does not cause many effects in healthy people, but it can be dangerous for young children, the elderly, and people with other serious illnesses. It is transmitted from person to person by contact with an infected person or by touching an infected place. The virus also spreads through the stool and vomit of an infected person.

Norovirus Diarrhea, abdominal pain, vomiting, nausea, high fever, headache, and body aches are some of the common symptoms of norovirus. Experts say that excessive diarrhea or vomiting can lead to a loss of water in the body and this can lead to complications.

Norovirus Symptoms

Signs and symptoms of a norovirus infection include:

  • Vomiting
  • Nausea
  • Stomach cramps or pain
  • Watery or loose diarrhea
  • Feeling sick
  • Muscle pain
  • Low fever

Signs and symptoms usually begin 12 to 48 hours after exposure to norovirus and last one to three days. You can continue to pass viruses in your stool for up to two weeks after recovery. This shedding can last from weeks to months if you have an underlying health condition. Some people with norovirus infections have no signs or symptoms. However, they are still contagious and can transmit the virus to others.

Reasons or Causes

Norovirus is highly contagious and is shed in the feces of infected humans and animals. You can get norovirus by:

  • Drinking contaminated water
  • Eating contaminated foods
  • Touching your hand to your mouth after your hand has touched a contaminated surface or object
  • Close contact with someone who has a norovirus infection
  • Noroviruses are difficult to kill because they are tolerant of hot and cold temperatures and most disinfectants.

Risk Factors

Risk factors for norovirus infection include:

  • Going to a nursery or child care center
  • Living in close quarters, such as nursing homes
  • Eating in a place where food is handled incorrectly
  • Accommodation in hotels, resorts, cruise ships, or other destinations with many people nearby
  • Contact with someone who has a norovirus infection

Norovirus Diagnosis

Norovirus is transmitted through contaminated food, vomiting, and personal contact. The main cause of acute nonbacterial gastroenteritis, norovirus, is primarily characterized by a short incubation period, vomiting, nausea, and diarrhea. The disease is generally mild and self-limiting. However, diagnostic procedures aim to avoid nosocomial infections and unnecessary treatment with antibiotics. Therefore, the diagnosis of norovirus is based on the clinical suspicion of a patient with typical symptoms.

Norovirus Prevention

Norovirus infection is highly contagious, and anyone can get it more than once. To help prevent its spread:

  • Wash your hands well with soap and water, especially after using the toilet or changing diapers.
  • Avoid contaminated foods and water, including foods that a sick person could bring in.
  • Wash fruits and vegetables before eating.
  • Cook seafood well.
  • Dispose of vomit and stool carefully to avoid spreading norovirus by air. Absorb the items with disposable towels, disturb them as little as possible, and place them in disposable plastic bags.
  • Wash fruits and vegetables before eating.
  • Cook seafood thoroughly.
  • Disinfect surfaces that may be contaminated. Use a chlorine bleach solution and wear gloves.
  • Stay home from work, especially if your job involves handling food. You may be contagious for up to three days after your symptoms have passed. Children must stay home from school or childcare.
  • Avoid travel until signs and symptoms are gone.

Norovirus Treatment

Currently, there are no vaccines available for norovirus. Although, according to the World Health Organization, some vaccines are in the stage of preclinical and human trials.

  • Norovirus is a viral infection, not a bacterial infection. Therefore, antibacterial drugs are ineffective against norovirus.
  • Symptoms need individual treatment. The introduction of fluids into the diet protects the patient from dehydration.
  • Hydration is an essential aspect of the treatment approach. According to reports, in severe cases, fluids are given intravenously.

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  • Since there is no definitive cure, our best bet is to exercise precautions.
  • Be vigilant and aware of the outbreak. Being healthy enough to fight off the virus and adjusting to the new normal is an important takeaway from the current scenario.

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