Norovirus is a highly contagious virus that causes sudden onset of severe vomiting and diarrhea. It is spread through direct contact with an infected person, ingesting food or water that is contaminated, or touching contaminated surfaces and then putting your hands in your mouth. Interestingly, norovirus has caused many outbreaks, specifically on cruise liners.
Norovirus is NOT related to the flu, which is caused by the influenza virus.
The most common symptoms of norovirus are:
- Muscle aches
- Stomach pain
Treatment for Norovirus
The treatment is generally supportive care – making sure you stay hydrated.
There is no antibiotic that treats norovirus.
If the dehydration becomes severe, patients may need to come to one of our emergency departments for IV fluids and medicine to help stop them from vomiting.
Infants and people with chronic medical conditions are at particularly high risk for severe dehydration.
Protect yourself and others from norovirus by practicing good hand hygiene, handling food carefully, avoiding others when you’re sick, and cleaning/disinfecting surfaces thoroughly.
Practice proper hand hygiene.
Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water…
- Especially after using the toilet or changing diapers.
- Always before eating, preparing, or handling food.
- Before giving yourself or someone else medicine.
Handle and prepare food safely.
When handling food, carefully wash fruits and vegetables before preparing and eating them.
Noroviruses are relatively resistant to heat. They can survive temperatures as high as 145°F and quick steaming processes.
If you suspect that food may be contaminated with norovirus should be thrown out.
Keep sick infants and children out of areas where food is being handled and prepared.
**You should not prepare food for others or provide healthcare while you are sick and for at least 2 days after symptoms stop.
About Andrew Jakubowicz, MD
Dr. Jakubowicz (“Dr. J”) is an emergency medicine physician with Wake Emergency Physicians, PA (WEPPA) and the medical director of the WakeMed Children’s Emergency Department. Since 2013, Dr. J has been practicing out of WakeMed Children’s Emergency Department and is board certified in emergency medicine as well as general pediatrics.