Norovirus is one of the world’s most enigmatic viruses, as it has often existed and manifested itself in humans somewhat “under the radar”. If you’ve ever had what might be called a stomach virus, stomach flu, or even food poisoning, there’s a good chance you’ve been infected with Norovirus. Food poisoning can be caused by the Salmonella bacteria or Noroviruses. Unlike bacterial infections, which can be treated successfully with antibiotics, viruses such as Norovirus can not. Anti-viral medications exist to treat many viruses, but currently there is no anti-viral medication known to successfully treat Norovirus. Moreover, there is no vaccine proven to prevent Norovirus.
Noroviruses make up a group of viruses which cause gastroenteritis, which is an inflammation of the lining of the stomach and large intestines. Chief among the symptoms of Norovirus are vomiting, diarrhea, stomach cramps, fever, and body aches. Symptoms generally show up 1-2 days after exposure and last for 1-3 days. These symptoms can often be severe, though generally not life threatening. However, the very young, the elderly, and persons with medical conditions and compromised immune systems are at much greater risk for more severe, lasting symptoms and possibly even death.
Noroviruses are known to be highly contagious, and can be easily spread in places like long-term care facilities and daycares. There have been many cases of widely spread Norovirus on cruise ships. It is contracted by coming in contact with a person sick with norovirus, touching a surface that has also been touched by a sick person and then putting your fingers in your mouth, or consuming food or drinks that have been contaminated with norovirus. Unfortunately, the virus is not easily eradicated by many cleaning products and can live on surfaces for days or weeks. Still, the best prevention for Norovirus is cleanliness. Regularly washing your hands with soap and water, especially before and after preparing food will go a long way towards prevention, as well as cleaning commonly touched surfaces with bleach and water, using 1 ½ cups of bleach per gallon of water. Thoroughly wash any clothes which might have been exposed, and throw away, in plastic bags, anything used to clean up vomit or stool.
Norovirus will usually run its course in a few days, but getting plenty of rest, drinking plenty of fluids, and taking an anti-nausea medicine will reduce your discomfort.
Healthcare workers, such as are found at your local GetMed Urgent Care clinic, can gauge whether your signs and symptoms are likely due to Norovirus. Because of the contagious nature of the virus, it’s important to seek care immediately if you begin to show symptoms. GetMed Urgent Care has 3 locations to serve you in Southeast Florida, in Tamarac, Plantation, and Boca Raton. We’re ready and prepared to offer you the best treatment and advice available. As always, we’ll treat you like family.
Live well, be well, and enjoy life!