Named for the town of Norwalk, Ohio, where it was first discovered in 1972, Norovirus is a group of viruses that can cause gastroenteritis, which is inflammation of the lining of the stomach and small intestine. Sometimes norovirus is referred to as stomach flu, though they are not related to influenza, or food poisoning, as the viruses can be transmitted by contaminated food or beverages, there are at least twenty-five different norovirus strains that can affect people.
What Are Incubation Period and Contagious Duration of Norovirus?
People can be infected with norovirus long before actually becoming sick, though the general incubation period is approximately two days between initial infection and signs of symptoms. The contagion period begins during this incubation, and people will continue to be contagious even symptoms have disappeared for weeks, particularly to those with weakened immune systems.
How Can Norovirus Transmit?
There are a number of ways in which norovirus can be transmitted, and the virus can spread quickly in closed places such as nursing homes, daycare centers, and hospitals, so caregivers should be vigilant with hand washing. It also spreads quickly on cruise ships.
- Contaminated food. If you ingest food or beverages contaminated with norovirus because an infected person has handled your food without proper hand washing, you can get infected.
- Contaminated objects. Touching surfaces contaminated with norovirus, such as countertops, tables and toilets and then touch surfaces near your mouth or putyour fingers in your mouth will make you become infected.
- Contact with infected persons. Norovirus is a highly contagious disease that can affect anyone who comes into contact with an infected person, as it is transmittable before the infected person shows signs of being sick, while they are sick, and for up to weeks afterward.
If you are interested in knowing how easy it is for norovirus to transmit, then watch the video below:
What Are the Symptoms of Norovirus Illness?
Norovirus causes inflammation of the lining of the stomach and small intestine, called acute gastroenteritis. The most common symptoms associated with the virus include vomiting, nausea, diarrhea and abdominal pain. You may also suffer from body aches, headache and fever, as well as dehydration. The severity of symptoms may vary from person to person, depending on level of infection and health condition of people's immune system. You should be aware that the symptoms of dehydration include a constant feeling of thirst, dry mouth and throat, decreased urination, and dizziness upon standing. The symptoms can last anywhere from one to three days.
What Can Be Done to Prevent Norovirus?
There are a number of ways you can do to prevent becoming ill with norovirus, and most are just common and easy approaches that should be practiced daily.
1. Wash Hands Carefully
This is probably the most important and easiest step you can take to stay virus-free and prevent spreading norovirus to others. You should wash thoroughly using soap and warm water before and after using the bathroom, changing diapers, handling food, eating, coughing and sneezing, and coming in contact with infected people.
2. Wash, Clean and Cook Food Thoroughly
Carefully washing fruits and vegetables can help keep the virus from spreading. You must also thoroughly cook your food. The virus can survive up to 140 degrees Fahrenheit, so cooking food completely will kill the virus. Anything that you suspect is contaminated with the virus should be properly disposed of.
Using hand sanitizers is a viable option when you cannot immediately wash your hands, but it is not a substitute for proper hand washing, so use it only when necessary.
4. Don't Go to Crowded Places
Avoid going to public places where there are high chances of spreading of this virus from people suffering from it.
5. Disinfect Frequently Touched Surfaces
Surfaces that an infected person may come in contact with should be disinfected immediately. The best way to do this is by using a solution of approximately twenty-five tablespoons of bleach to one gallon of hot water. Wearing latex gloves and a mask, wipe down all surfaces that may have been contaminated, including toilets, sinks, countertops, doorknobs and computer keyboards.
6. Clean and Disinfect Other Things, If Necessary
- Clothes. Clothing may have come in contact with an infected person or surface, so it should be removed and washed separately. Avoid using a washing machine in order to avoid cross-contamination. Handle any clothing or linens with disposable gloves, using hot waterand detergent.
- Toilet. Your toilet should also be thoroughly cleaned using a solution of twenty-five tablespoons ofbleach to one gallon of water. Be sure to wear disposable gloves and a mask to prevent becoming infected, and throw away any sponges or brushes you use.
7. Take Precation When Coming in Contact With Infected Persons
- Stay away from people with norovirus. Norovirus is highly contagious so you need to stay away from people who may be infected, especially if they are showing symptoms. If anyone in your home is sick with the virus, they should be isolated from others to avoid spreading the virus. This includes asking them to stay home from work or school to avoid infecting anyone else.
- Wear gloves and masks. If you are caring for someone with the norovirus, protect yourself by wearing disposable gloves and a mask when cleaning up after them. Do not eat anything they have eaten, and thoroughly clean any surfaces they may touch. And remember to wash your hands frequently.