Norovirus

What is the Norovirus?

Commonly referred to as the winter "Vomiting Bug", Norovirus is a term given to a group of stomach viruses that cause inflammation in the stomach and intestines. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that, on average, there are 19 to 21 million reported cases of Norovirus each year within the United States. Currently, this year, there have been several outbreaks reported across the country. Therefore, people must become aware of the virus and how to prevent themselves from catching it.

Norovirus News

Earlier this month, the United States has seen one of the largest alleged outbreaks of the year. There have been two reported cases of Norovirus at Yosemite National Park so far, with 170 others suffering from symptoms that are consistent with the virus. There also has been an outbreak of what seems to be the same virus in Eastern Montana that infected 100 people.

Facts About the Norovirus

There is cause for alarm about Norovirus, mostly because the infection is extremely contagious, and it can happen to anyone. The virus is easily spread through schools and offices alike, and schools all over the country are shutting down to help contain the virus. Once infected, people tend to get better on their own within one to three days. Even after the symptoms go away, a person can still spread the virus for days after that. Even though someone gets infected, the same person can also catch the virus again.  The condition spreads more commonly during the winter season.

How Norovirus is Contracted

People become infected with Norovirus, mostly through the consumption of contaminated food or beverages. People also may come down with the virus through direct contact, followed by touching the eyes, mouth, or nose before washing hands. Noroviruses thrive in closed areas filled with a bunch of people, including restaurants and buildings. Once a person gets the virus, they can quickly spread from person to person. The virus can also survive harsh temperatures, both cold and hot. Norovirus can also spread through the air from vomiting or fecal material.

Symptoms of Norovirus

Symptoms of Norovirus are similar to those of the stomach flu. However, the two illnesses are very different, mainly because Norovirus is so extremely contagious. A person infected with Norovirus will go through about three grueling days of vomiting, stomach pain, and diarrhea. The virus is hard to contain, seeing as it immediately becomes contagious even before the appearance of symptoms. Additional symptoms of Norovirus include mild fever, chills, sweating, muscle aches, and fatigue. While the symptoms of the infection are not very serious, dehydration can become a concern due to vomiting and diarrhea.

Treating Norovirus

There currently is no treatment for Norovirus. The infection does not respond to antibiotics, nor is there any antiviral medication for the virus. For people with a healthy immune system, the illness typically goes away on its own. There are some of those infected that have claimed that over the counter stomach medications such as Pepto Bismol and Kaopectate can help relieve symptoms of nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. The biggest concern of Norovirus is dehydration. The virus causes excess sweating, vomiting, and diarrhea, which all contribute to rapid dehydration. It is essential to keep hydrated with sports drinks and other electrolyte-rich beverages. Often, IV Fluids are required in severe cases of dehydration. Mostly, the best way to treat the illness is by resting and staying as comfortable as possible. Avoid solid foods. When eating solids, do not eat anything that is heavily seasoned, or that may upset the stomach. Currently, there is no way to stop a fever entirely. However, medicines such as Tylenol, Advil, and Ibuprofen are all pain relievers that can help reduce the pain and discomfort from fever caused by Norovirus.

Prevent Norovirus Illness

Sanitation is the key to preventing illness caused by Norovirus. While the virus is extremely contagious and can even become airborne, basic hygiene practices can help minimize the chances of attaining the infection. Take the time to clean fruits and vegetables thoroughly before consuming them. Avoid contaminated food or water. Do not eat any foods prepared by someone that may be sick. When cooking, do so by using clean surfaces and utensils. Always wash hands regularly, especially after using the restroom or after handling a used diaper. Do not come into contact with anyone infected with Norovirus, and refrain form traveling when showing signs of infection. While Norovirus is not necessarily life-threatening, it is an unpleasant illness. The best way to contain the virus is by taking preventative methods, and by staying home when infected with the virus to avoid infecting others.

Norovirus is not typically life-threatening, as Coronavirus can be, however, the illness can cause a patient to be sick enough to require emergency medical attention. If you have any signs of the Norovirus, come to The Emergency Center immediately. We are here 24/7/365 if you or your family needs emergency care. Never second guess whether or not an illness is severe enough to require emergency attention. The Emergency Center provides up to 23 hours of Observation and offers 24/7 care with NO WAITING. Visit one of The Emergency Center’s convenient 24-hour locations in ArlingtonFort Worth, and San Antonio.