Also known as the “stomach flu” or “stomach bug”, this virus is easily transmitted between people, contaminated food, water or surfaces. How can you best protect yourself?
The Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) explained: “Norovirus causes inflammation of the stomach or intestines.”
A person tends to develop symptoms between 12 to 48 hours after exposure to the virus.
Symptoms include diarrhoea, vomiting, nausea and stomach pain; some people experience a fever, headache and body aches.
The illness can lead to dehydration; signs you are dehydrated include a dry mouth and throat.
Other signs of dehydration include feeling dizzy when standing up and a decrease in urination.
“Norovirus spreads very easily and quickly in different ways,” warned the CDC.
This is why the straightforward technique of “washing your hands with soap and water” is the best form of defence.
A person infected with norovirus “can shed billions of [microscopic] norovirus particles”.
Infected individuals are most contagious when displaying symptoms of the virus or a couple of days following recovery.
“Studies have shown that you can still spread norovirus for two weeks, or more, after you feel better,” added the CDC.
Touching a contaminated surface, then touching your mouth, is one way the virus can infect you.
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By washing your hands with soap and water often, virus particles are washed away.
Good hygiene prevents the virus from accessing your body and making you ill.
And, if you’re already infected, then hand washing is a good way to help prevent the virus from spreading to other people.
Should anybody in your household have the virus, do not share food or utensils with them.
There is no vaccination against norovirus, although this is said to be “an active area of research”.
The CDC gives advice on the best times to wash your hands, which are:
After using the toilet or changing diapersAlways before eating, preparing, or handling foodBefore giving yourself or someone else medicine
Hand sanitisers can be used in addition to hand washing, but must never replace the act of thoroughly washing your hands with soap and water.
“Hand sanitisers aren’t as effective as washing hands with soap and water at removing norovirus particles,” confirmed the CDC.
Before preparing food, the CDC recommends washing fruits and vegetables.
Be aware that noroviruses are resistant to heat; they can survive temperatures as high as 145°F and quick steaming processes.
Moreover, routinely “clean and sanitise kitchen utensils, counters and surfaces”.
Should you have norovirus, make sure to stay hydrated and rest at home.