Anyone Can Get Norovirus
Anyone can be infected with noroviruses and get sick. Also, you can get norovirus illness more than once during your life. The illness often begins suddenly. You may feel very sick, with stomach cramping, throwing up, or diarrhea.
Noroviruses spread easily, causing more than 20 million gastroenteritis cases each year in the U.S. There’s no vaccine to prevent norovirus infection and no drug to treat it.
Noroviruses are the most common cause of gastroenteritis in the United States. CDC estimates that each year more than 20 million cases of acute gastroenteritis are caused by noroviruses. That means about 1 in every 15 Americans will get norovirus illness each year. Norovirus is also estimated to cause over 70,000 hospitalizations and 800 deaths each year in the United States.
Many Names, Same Symptoms
You may hear norovirus illness called “food poisoning” or “stomach flu.” It is true that food poisoning can be caused by noroviruses. But, other germs and chemicals can also cause food poisoning. Norovirus illness is not related to the flu (influenza), which is a respiratory illness caused by influenza virus.
Symptoms of norovirus infection usually include diarrhea, throwing up, nausea, and stomach cramping.
Other, less common symptoms may include low-grade fever, chills, headache, muscle aches, and general sense of fatigue.
Although the Norovirus illness is usually not serious, it can be serious in young children, the elderly, and people with other health conditions. It can lead to severe dehydration, hospitalization and death.
Norovirus Spreads Quickly
Norovirus can spread quickly from person to person in crowded, closed places like long-term care facilities, daycare centers, schools, hotels, and cruise ships. Noroviruses can also be a major cause of gastroenteritis in restaurants and catered-meal settings if contaminated food is served.
Norovirus and Food
Norovirus is a leading cause of disease from contaminated foods in the United States. Foods that are most commonly involved in foodborne norovirus outbreaks include leafy greens (such as lettuce), fresh fruits, and shellfish (such as oysters). However, any food item that is served raw or handled after being cooked can become contaminated with noroviruses.
The viruses are found in the vomit and stool of infected people. You can get it by:
- Eating food or drinking liquids that are contaminated with norovirus (someone gets stool or vomit on their hands, then touches food or drink).
- Touching surfaces or objects contaminated with norovirus and then putting your hand or fingers in your mouth.
- Having direct contact with a person who is infected with norovirus (for example, when caring for someone with norovirus or sharing foods or eating utensils with them).
People with norovirus illness are contagious from the moment they begin feeling sick until at least 3 days after they recover. But, some people may be contagious for even longer.
Norovirus: No Vaccine and No Treatment
There is no vaccine to prevent norovirus infection. Also, there is no drug to treat people who get sick from the virus. Antibiotics will not help if you have norovirus illness. This is because antibiotics fight against bacteria, not viruses.
Stop the Spread of Norovirus
- Practice proper hand hygiene: yes, wash your hands carefully with soap and water, especially after using the toilet and changing diapers and always before eating or preparing food.
- Carefully wash fruits and vegetables, and cook oysters and other shellfish thoroughly before eating them.
- Do not prepare food while infected.
Another Key to Containing Norovirus Outbreaks
The other key to stopping the spread of Norovirus, especially in crowded or contained areas, is to ensure you are sanitizing environments from floor to ceiling and everywhere in between, including transmission points where traditional, water-based chemicals and spraying / wiping techniques aren’t as effective such as fine electronics such as computers, keyboards, food processing equipment, etc.
Questions? Contact us to learn more about how Level4 Bio can help safely and effectively disinfect, protect and minimize the spread of the Norovirus in any environment where people live and work.