Noroviruses can cause gastroenteritis, foodborne-illness and food infections. Noroviruses usually spread via contaminated food and water, but can also spread from one individual to another. The water is stained if human waste enters sources of drinking water due to flooding or from a sewage system not properly functioning.
An individual can become infected by:
- Consuming foods or drinking liquids contaminated by noroviruses. Salad ingredients and shellfish are the foods typically infected by the viruses.
- Touching objects or surfaces that are contaminated and placing your hand in the mouth.
- Direct contact with an infected individual.
What are the indications?
- Abdominal pain
Both vomiting and diarrhea can lead to dehydration. There is also fever and a headache. A mild case usually develops 24-48 hours after consuming contaminated food or water and lasts 24-60 hours. Severe cases that necessitate medical care are considered rare.
Gastroenteritis due to noroviruses is treated by managing the complications, especially dehydration. Avoid using medications including antibiotics unless advised by the doctor.
Dehydration can be prevented by taking frequent sips of a rehydration beverage. For every large, loose stool, drink a cup of water or rehydration beverage. In severe cases of dehydration, intravenous fluids might be required.
A normal diet must be followed if possible to ensure proper nutrition. A normal diet is believed to promote faster recovery.
If the individual has diarrhea due to noroviruses, he/she must stay at home for 2-3 days after the symptoms settled before going back to school or work to prevent the spread of the virus.
- Regularly wash hands especially after using the bathroom and before preparing food.
- Fruits and vegetables must be thoroughly washed while oysters should be steamed before eating.
- If drinking water is likely to be contaminated, it should be boiled for 1 minute, cool and refrigerate.
- Contaminated surfaces must be cleaned and disinfected right away using a bleach-based household cleaner after an episode of diarrhea or vomiting
- Remove and cleanse soiled linens or clothing right away after an episode of diarrhea or vomiting with soap and hot water.
- Those who have symptoms of foodborne-illness should avoid preparing food and up to 3 days after recovery.