Commonly brought on by the consumption of contaminated foods, norovirus is highly contagious and affects nearly 20 million people across the country each year. Often called a stomach bug or stomach flu, the virus has no relation to the influenza virus but presents with some comparable symptoms. Norovirus can affect people of all ages. If you begin to suffer from symptoms, visit AFC Urgent Care for proper diagnosis and treatment for the correct virus.

How Does Norovirus Spread?

Norovirus spreads quickly and easily through two main avenues: by eating contaminated food, or by touching a contaminated surface and touching your nose, mouth or eyes immediately after. The virus can also spread through the air as a person with the disease throws up or flushes a toilet after throwing up. If someone without the virus breathes in that air, they can contract the virus and begin exhibiting symptoms. Outbreaks of the norovirus are extremely common when groups of people are in close quarters, such as school dormitories and cruise ships, and often begin when an infected cook or food service worker handles food before it is served. The virus can be spread for up to three days after the patient has recovered, which is why outbreaks take time to get under control.

How to Tell if You Have Norovirus

Symptoms will show up within the first 48 hours after you have been exposed to the virus. Early signs including nausea, aches, chills, fever, and headache, which is why it can be confused for the flu. The patient will also suffer from vomiting and diarrhea, stomach pain, cramping, and exhaustion. Symptoms should subside within two days, but more serious cases can last longer. Hospitalization may be required for seniors, very young children or immunosuppressed individuals who come into contact with the virus. While symptoms should fade away quickly, a patient will continue to be contagious up to three days after they appear to have recovered.

Treating Norovirus & Preventing Further Cases

Norovirus cannot be treated with antibiotics like some illnesses because it is a virus. Drinking beverages rich in electrolytes such as sports drinks will help replenish fluids lost over the course of the virus. In order to prevent norovirus, it is critical to make sure both the people preparing food and their food preparation stations are kept clean and disinfected. Proper handwashing before handling food will reduce the risk of contamination. You should avoid eating raw or undercooked seafood and meat products to avoid the virus. If you contract the virus, avoid handling food for at least three days after your symptoms have dissipated in order to prevent a breakout in your kitchen.

If you or a member of your family begins to exhibit symptoms of norovirus, visit an AFC Urgent Care Center for diagnosis and treatment for dehydration.