Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that there are more cases of norovirus than typical for this time of year in the United States.
More than fifteen percent of weekly tests for norovirus had been positive as of February 9; this percentage is the highest it has been since the middle of March 2022. As of January 2, 2023, 225 outbreaks were reported to the CDC between August 1, 2022 and January 2, 2023, up from 172 at the same time previous year.
In addition to the primary school in Las Vegas, another school (20 miles west of Detroit) in Livonia, Michigan, which serves students in preschool through eighth grade, has seen an epidemic of norovirus.
What follows is information crucial to understanding norovirus and avoiding infection.
Norovirus: what is it exactly?
Most cases of viral gastroenteritis, an inflammation of the intestinal lining, are caused by norovirus, a highly infectious virus.
A norovirus infection is not the same as the flu, despite its common name. In fact, it’s responsible for 58% of foodborne infections every year in the US, as reported by the CDC.
Nausea, vomiting, abdominal discomfort, and diarrhea are typical presentations. Patients may also have other symptoms like as fever, head and body pains. Between 19 and 21 million cases of sickness, 109,000 admissions to hospitals, and 900 fatalities every year are attributed to the virus, as reported by the government health office.
Is there a way to safeguard oneself?
Washing hands with soap and warm water for 20 seconds is recommended by health professionals as the best technique to avoid contracting norovirus. Alcohol-based sanitizers are less effective against norovirus because the virus is protected by a lipid envelope, a coating that prevents it from being recognized by the immune system.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that everyone wash their hands before eating, preparing food, or handling food after using the restroom or changing a baby’s diaper. Make sure all produce is well cleaned, and boil shellfish to an internal temperature of 145 degrees Fahrenheit or higher to kill any potential bacteria.
The transmission of norovirus
Just a few norovirus particles are enough to infect a person, making it one of the most infectious and easily spread viruses. This indicates that ingestion of contaminated food or beverages is necessary for infection, as is contact with an infected person who has norovirus, sharing eating utensils, or touching surfaces that have been contaminated with norovirus.
Produce washed in polluted water and seafood like oysters grown in toxic waters are examples of the latter.
People infected with the virus usually start showing symptoms between 12 and 48 hours after infection. However, the CDC reports that most cases of norovirus resolve within two to three days in otherwise healthy individuals.
How to treat It
Due to the lack of a vaccine or antiviral medication, therapy for norovirus consists of relieving symptoms. Electrolytes, which may be lost via diarrhea and vomiting, should be replaced by drinking fluids with electrolytes.
Take pain relievers like ibuprofen or acetaminophen if your temperature is bothersome. Most individuals will feel better within a few days, but infants, the elderly, and those with weak immune systems are at increased risk for severe dehydration.
Nutritional considerations for those affected by norovirus
Bananas, dry bread, crackers, and rice are some examples of bland foods that might help you feel better quickly if you have norovirus. Spicy food, alcohol, caffeine, and dairy products like milk and cheese should all be avoided if you’re experiencing stomach discomfort.
When compared to food poisoning, how does norovirus differ?
The broad category of being unwell after consuming food or drink includes many different types of illnesses, one of which is norovirus. Salmonella, Campylobacter, E. coli, and Listeria are just few of the bacteria that may make you sick by eating contaminated food. The symptoms of food poisoning normally manifest six to twelve hours after ingestion, but norovirus symptoms might take up to 48 hours to develop.