Late fall and winter bring about holiday celebrations and a nasty stomach bug known formally as the norovirus. According to Dr. Michael Brumage, executive director and health officer for the Kanawha-Charleston Health Department, “Norovirus is highly contagious and can quickly spread. Most people recover from the illness in one to three days. The elderly, very young children, and those with underlying health conditions are at greater risk for hospitalization.”
Symptoms include the sudden onset of diarrhea, nausea, stomach pain, and vomiting. These symptoms may be accompanied by fevers, headaches, and body aches
Norovirus is highly contagious. It can spread quickly. Individuals can get norovirus from contaminated food or water, an infected person or by touching contaminated surfaces.
Carefully washing hands with soap and water, especially before eating and preparing or handling food helps prevent the spread of infection. Always wash hands well after using the toilet or changing diapers.
Clean and disinfect contaminated surfaces, using a chlorine bleach solution or approved disinfectant. Alcohol-based hand sanitizers should not be used as a substitute for hand washing with soap and water to prevent norovirus infection
No specific treatment exists for norovirus-induced gastroenteritis. Stay home until the symptoms resolve and avoid dehydration by replacing fluids and electrolytes lost from vomiting and diarrhea. If symptoms worsen or persist, consult a health care provider. In some cases, it is possible to continue spreading the virus for up to two weeks after the symptoms stop.