Noroviruses are a family of viruses that cause severe gastrointestinal illness. They infect the intestines causing diarrhea, vomiting, abdominal cramps and fever. Most commonly they affect children under 5 years old but can occur at any age if not treated promptly with antibiotics.
The virus is transmitted through contaminated food or water, especially during outbreaks. Children are most susceptible to infection because their small size makes them more likely to touch objects that have been in contact with infected feces.
Symptoms usually appear within 24 hours of exposure and last 4-7 days depending on the severity of the illness. Symptoms include:
Diarrhea (usually bloody)
Abdominal pain, cramping and nausea.
In some cases, the patient may experience blood in stool or vomit up blood. Other symptoms include headache, muscle aches and fatigue.
These symptoms usually subside after a few days without further treatment. If left untreated, however, these illnesses can lead to death.
Treatment: Since most cases of norovirus are self-limited and resolve on their own, treatment mainly involves over the counter pain medication and vomiting medication. Paracetamol or acetaminophen can be given to reduce a high fever and pain.
Rehydration can be achieved through drinking lots of water or a special rehydration solution such as Pedialyte.
Treatment for more severe symptoms should be sought at the nearest hospital or medical facility and can involve intravenous fluid treatment and anti-vomiting medication.
Prevention: Good handwashing technique can help prevent the spread of norovirus and other gastrointestinal illnesses. All people who are ill should be restricted from coming into contact with others until at least 48 hours after the last bout of vomiting and diarrhea.
Since noroviruses are most commonly spread through the fecal-orinal route (feces or poop), it is important that those who are infected with it do not come into contact with other people until they have been symptom free for at least 48 hours. Handwashing is key in stopping the spread of this illness.
This preventative measure can be helped along by ensuring that everyone washes their hands after going to the bathroom and before eating or preparing food.
Sources & references used in this article:
Foodborne norovirus outbreak: the role of an asymptomatic food handler by I Barrabeig, A Rovira, J Buesa, R Bartolomé… – BMC Infectious …, 2010 – Springer
A case of norovirus and Clostridium difficile infection: casual or causal relationship? by GE Bignardi, K Staples… – Journal of Hospital …, 2007 – journalofhospitalinfection.com
Norovirus-like VP1 particles exhibit isolate dependent stability profiles by R Pogan, C Schneider, R Reimer… – Journal of Physics …, 2018 – iopscience.iop.org
Curcumin shows antiviral properties against norovirus by M Yang, GJ Lee, J Si, SJ Lee, HJ You, GP Ko – Molecules, 2016 – mdpi.com
Consumer education needed on norovirus prevention and control: findings from a nationally representative survey of US adults by SC Cates, KM Kosa, JE Brophy… – Journal of food …, 2015 – meridian.allenpress.com
With Norovirus in the News, What do You Need to Know by B Marler – foodpoisonjournal.com