Norovirus was initially known as Norwalk virus, after the name of the town of Norwalk, where the first outbreak of the disease happened. Norovirus is an RNA virus that causes acute gastroenteritis (vomiting and diarrhea).
This enteric pathogen is highly contagious and spreads through contaminated food and water. Norovirus is responsible for more than 50% of foodborne diseases every year. Norovirus infection can occur in any season but is more common in winter. Therefore, it is also famous as the winter vomiting bug.
Symptoms of norovirus
Most symptoms of norovirus infection usually last for 1-2 days without sustaining side effects. The common signs and symptoms of norovirus infection are:
Most of the symptoms don’t possess any harm, but frequent diarrhea and vomiting can drain the body’s fluid and leads to dehydration. The prominent symptoms of norovirus are similar to food poisoning (vomiting, cramps, and watery diarrhea). The doctors differentiate between these two by the microbiology of the stool test.
The symptoms of norovirus infection usually begin 1-2 days after ingesting virus-laden food or in close contact with an infected person. In most cases, people recover within one or two days without long-term side effects, but occasionally people with norovirus may have milder symptoms for a week or more. Sometimes, the carriers of norovirus have no symptoms at all but can still infect other persons.
How does norovirus transmit?
Norovirus is a contagious infection that spreads rapidly from contaminated food or drinks. The infected person sheds viruses in their vomiting or feces. From there, the virus can transfer to the surfaces, food, or water from the hands of the infected person who has not washed their hand appropriately after using the restroom. People can get the infection by:
Complications of norovirus
Generally, norovirus doesn’t cause any complications after recovery. But, people with poor low immunity, children, and older people may suffer from weakness and dehydration-like symptoms, such as:
Contagiousness of norovirus
People recover within a few days after getting the infection but shed the virus through feces for up to eight weeks. Over time, it becomes less infectious, and the number of viruses sheds also decreases. But within this period, there is a chance you can infect other people. So, be extra cautious during this time interval.
Diagnosis of norovirus
Most of the symptoms are similar to food poisoning. The doctor can make a diagnosis based on symptoms associated with fever, chills, fatigue, and similar history in the family. After that, your doctor suggests a stool test confirm the norovirus infection.
Treatment of norovirus infection
Currently, there is no specific treatment available for norovirus. No antibacterial drugs are effective against this viral disease. Mostly, the patient recovers from infection within 2-3 days without any medical intervention. The doctors only recommend symptoms-specific treatment, such as:
Prevention of norovirus infection
The best way to stop the spreading of the virus is proper protection. A good hygiene practice is a key to interrupting the transmission of any infectious disease, including norovirus. The following are a few tips that can help to halt the spreading of norovirus:
Norovirus infection generally takes a few days to recover. So, in the meantime, stay hydrated and isolate yourself from others to prevent the spread of the virus.