Norovirus Infection, Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment.

Article By: Patrick Mansfield | U.S. Health Alerts
Noro Virus

Noroviruses is an extremely contagious virus that is responsible for the majority of acute gastroenteritis (infection of the stomach and intestines) cases in the United States. Norovirus illness is transmitted easily and is often referred to as the stomach flu or viral gastroenteritis. 

Transmission of the virus can occur person-to-person or through contaminated food or drinks prepared by an infected person. The virus is shed in the vomit and feces of the infected host. The virus is extremely hearty and is capable of surviving on surfaces that have come into contact with an infected person. 

Common Sources    

Norovirus can be spread through a wide range of routes including the ones mentioned below:
  • Unwashed fruits and vegetables
  • Shellfish
  • Ready-to-eat foods handled by infected workers (examples include salads, sandwiches, ice, cookies, and fruit)
  • Any other foods contaminated by an infected person
  • Incubation Period    
The typical incubation period for norovirus is between 12 to 48 hours.

Symptoms of Norovirus Infection    
  • Diarrhea (more common in adults)- usually non-bloody
  • Vomiting (more common in children)
  • Nausea
  • Stomach pain
Duration of Infection

Typically, an infection will last between 1 to 3 days. Infection in younger children, older adults, or hospitalized patients can last as long as 4 to 6 days. 

Treatment of Norovirus Infection    

In order to assist your body in battling the virus, it is essential to drink adequate amounts of fluids and rest as often as possible. If you are having trouble holding down enough fluids and experiencing dehydration, it is crucial to contact your physician immediately. 

Following is a list of 7 helpful tips for preventing a possible infection. 

1. Wash your hands frequently and thoroughly with soap and warm water for at least 20 to 30 seconds. This is especially important after using the bathroom or prior to preparing food.

2. When working in a deli, restaurant, or any type of food service, it is crucial to wear gloves and never touch food with your bare hands. 

3. Any surface that has been potentially contaminated by the virus must be thoroughly cleaned (it is recommended to use a bleach-based cleaner).

4. Be sure to thoroughly disinfect any surface or equipment used for food preparation.

5. If you are experiencing vomiting or diarrhea, avoid preparing or handling food for others. 

6. Always wash fruits and vegetables prior to consumption and cook oysters and other shellfish thoroughly.

7. Machine wash and dry any clothing that has been soiled by vomit or feces immediately (and wash hands after handling soiled material).
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