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Posted on 01-18-2018

By now, I’m sure you’ve heard of how quickly the norovirus is spreading – causing schools to close and hospitals to turn people away because there is no space.

Overview

Norovirus is an infection that causes a sudden onset of vomiting and/or diarrhea. This is a highly contagious virus and is commonly spread through food, water, contaminated surfaces, and other people. The virus attacks and causes inflammation in the stomach or intestines. This is the reason for the abdominal pain, vomiting, diarrhea and other symptoms.

Symptoms

Symptoms include nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, diarrhea, malaise, fever, and muscle pain. Symptoms usually take some time to appear, typically 12 to 48 hours and can last several days.

When to seek Medical Attention

It is recommended to seek medical attention if symptoms do not improve within a couple days or if you have severe vomiting, abdominal pain, bloody stools or dehydration.

PREVENTION IS KEY

Norovirus is highly contagious but can be prevented. Here are several tips:

  • Wash your hand thoroughly and often, especially after using the toilet or changing a diaper and before eating, preparing or handling food.
  • Avoid contaminated water and food; this includes food that was prepared from someone who’s possibly ill.
  • Disinfect contaminated/high traffic areas regularly.
  • Stay home from work or school if you're ill.

A Note on Handwashing vs. Hand Sanitizer for Norovirus

This has been fairly controversial in the media and a question that many of our patients have asked about. Hand sanitizer has been shown to be quite convenient over hand washing.

However, there have been several articles and studies that have discussed how hand sanitizer is less effective/not effective against highly contagious viruses (like the norovirus) compared to hand washing.

The CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) also recommends hand washing over hand sanitizers. They stated that hand sanitizers may be used in addition to hand washing but should not substitute hand washing.    

References

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/norovirus/symptoms-causes/syc-20355296

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3168661/

https://www.cdc.gov/norovirus/preventing-infection.html

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