No, No, Norovirus

 

2018 is finally upon us and while for some that means new gym memberships and fulfilling new year’s resolutions, for most of us it means staying at home, spending more time with family and friends, and drinking hot cocoa while watching the snow fall.

With the winter in Michigan predicted to be colder and snowier this year than it was last year, it definitely seems safer to stay indoors than to go outdoors. However, staying indoors for too long in an enclosed space (e.g. home) carries its own health risks, unbeknownst to most. Most common of these risks include the “stomach flu” caused by the norovirus.

Norovirus is a virus that can cause common symptoms seen in what people commonly describe as the “stomach flu” or “food poisoning,” including nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and stomach pain1. According to CDC, the virus causes 19 to 21 million illnesses each year in the US1. Although the illness gets better within 1 to 3 days, the virus can also cause more serious symptoms like severe dehydration and hospitalization in young children, the elderly, and people with other health conditions2.

Norovirus is transmitted very easily from person to person by direct and indirect physical contact. Examples include shaking hands with an ill person, eating foods and drinking liquids prepared by someone with the virus, and not washing hands after touching an infected object1. People with this virus are contagious before they start to feel ill, all the way until a few days after their recovery2.

Since there is no current vaccine or treatment for the norovirus, it is absolutely important to follow some simple steps to avoid contracting and spreading this virus1.

  1. Wash hands thoroughly!
    • Alcohol-based sanitizer does NOT protect against the virus3 - soap and water's where it's at.
  2. Handle and prepare food safely!
    • Thoroughly rinse foods before preparing and eating. People with the virus should also NOT be preparing any foods for others1.
  3. Clean and disinfect contaminated surfaces!
    • Put on disposable gloves when wiping or disinfecting contaminated surfaces and objects. Bleach-based cleaners are most effective in getting rid of the virus1.
  4. Wash laundry thoroughly!
    • Wash contaminated clothing or linens separately from others and with detergent at maximum cycle length1.

If the virus still somehow makes its way through, then make sure to…

                        Drink plenty of liquids!                                    Get rest!

 

 

 

 

Make sure to bundle up and spend some quality time with family and friends this winter season, but also be on the lookout for those pesky viruses! Happy New Year!

References:

  1. Prevent the Spread of Norovirus. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 13 Nov. 2017, www.cdc.gov/features/norovirus/.
  2. “Norovirus (Norwalk Virus).” Food Safety, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 24 Aug. 2009, www.foodsafety.gov/poisoning/causes/bacteriaviruses/norovirus/.
  3. “General Fact Sheet for Norovirus (Viral Gastroenteritis).” Michigan Department of Community Health, www.michigan.gov/documents/emergingdiseases/General_Noro_Fact_Sheet_173589_7.pdf

 

 

Nothing herein constitutes medical advice, diagnosis or treatment, or is a substitute for professional advice.  You should always seek the advice of your physician or other medical professional if you have questions or concerns about a medical condition.

 

 

 

© Paul Ko, PharmD Candidate 2020

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