First, let the word be known: If you or a family member haven’t been plagued with it yet this season, consider yourself lucky because norovirus, aka “stomach flu” is going around, and it’s not pretty. This season the virulent stomach bug appears to be more angry than ever, roaring its’ way through communities and closing down schools throughout the country. Norovirus means business. What exactly is norovirus and how can you avoid it? Here are 5 things you need to know about norovirus:
What is Norovirus?
Norovirus is a highly contagious gastrointestinal virus. It is the most common cause of foodborne disease outbreaks in the U.S. Two years ago it ripped its’ way through Chipotle fast food restaurants across the country closing many of them down. Researchers believe norovirus is responsible for about 50% of all gastroenteritis outbreaks in the United States and approximately 90% of epidemic nonbacterial gastroenteritis outbreaks worldwide. Most cases occur in places where people come together in close contact such as hospitals, prisons, cruise ships, schools, and nursing homes. The virus is passed from person to person, by contaminated food and water, and by contact with contaminated surfaces.
Symptoms of norovirus usually occur within 12-48 hours of contact with the virus. Those infected usually develop nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal discomfort and occasional cramping. Some people may have a low-grade fever, exhaustion, aching muscles and loss of taste. Diarrhea may be as frequent as having many watery stools in 12-24 hours, which can can lead to dehydration.
Risk Factors of Norovirus
Anyone can contract a norovirus infection. It is most commonly found in a cluster of people in a group. The virus infects both children and adults, and people with suppressed immune function, the elderly, or those with serious medical conditions have a high risk of having complications from the infection.
Treatment for Norovirus
Norovirus typically resolves on its own within 3-5 days. There is no specific treatment for norovirus, but it is important to maintain good hydration when recovering. People with severe nausea and vomiting are often given medicine to reduce or stop vomiting. If effective, patients may also receive oral or rectal preparations of these drugs by their physician. Those who become dehydrated may need fluids with electrolytes to avoid complications of dehydration. To prevent dehydration, take frequent sips of a rehydration drink . Do not use medicines, including antibiotics and any other treatments, unless it is doctor recommended.
If symptoms last longer than three days, medical help should be sought.
- People with norovirus infection should not return to work or school until at least three days after all symptoms have subsided. Some individuals remain contagious for about three days after recovery, while some remain contagious for another two weeks.
- Strict hygiene and frequent handwashing must be implemented as some people shed the virus in their feces for up to two weeks after symptoms are gone.
- A dry diet is recommended as the symptoms of norovirus diminish. Items such as rice, bread, bananas and clear fluids are suggested.
For more information or if you are suffering from norovirus like symptoms, contact us at AFC Urgent Care Danbury at 2 Main Street or at our newest location 100 Mill Plain Road. We’re open 7 days a week!