What is Norovirus?
- Norovirus is a very contagious virus that can infect anyone. You can get it from an infected person, contaminated food or water, or by touching contaminated surfaces.
- The virus causes your stomach or intestines or both to get inflamed.
- Anyone can get infected with Noroviruses and can have the illness caused by Noroviruses multiple times in their lifetime.
How is Norovirus spread?
Noroviruses are found in the stool or vomit of infected people. People can become infected by:
- Having direct contact with an ill person.
- Eating foods or drinking liquids that are contaminated with Noroviruses.
- Touching surfaces or objects contaminated with Noroviruses and then touching their own mouth.
Norovirus causes inflammation of the stomach or intestines or both. This is called acute gastroenteritis.
The most common symptoms include:
- throwing up
- stomach pain
- body aches
A person usually develops symptoms 12 to 48 hours after being exposed to norovirus. Most people with norovirus illness get better within 1 to 3 days.
If you have norovirus illness, you can feel extremely ill and throw up or have diarrhea many times a day. This can lead to dehydration, especially in young children, older adults, and people with other illnesses.
Symptoms of dehydration:
- decrease in urination
- dry mouth and throat
- feeling dizzy when standing up
Children who are dehydrated may cry with few or no tears and be unusually sleepy or fussy.
- There is no specific medicine to treat people with Norovirus illness. Norovirus infection cannot be treated with antibiotics because it is a viral (not a bacterial) infection.
- If you have the illness, you should drink plenty of liquids to replace fluid lost from throwing up and diarrhea. This will help prevent dehydration.
- Sports drinks and other drinks without caffeine or alcohol can help with mild dehydration.
- Dehydration can lead to serious problems. Severe dehydration may require hospitalization for treatment with fluids given through your vein (intravenous or IV fluids). If you think you or someone you are caring for is severely dehydrated, call the doctor.
- Frequently washing hands, especially after using the toilet and changing diapers, and before eating or preparing foods.
- Carefully washing fruits and vegetables, and cooking oysters before eating them.
- Thoroughly cleaning and disinfecting contaminated surfaces immediately after an episode of illness. Clean with soap and water and then disinfect with a bleach solution (2 Tbsp. of bleach per quart of water.) This solution should be made fresh daily.
- Immediately removing and washing clothing or linens that may be contaminated with viruses after an episode of illness.
Norovirus in the Community