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Norovirus: All You Need To Know About This Bug

Norovirus infection: The norovirus has caught much attention since it has infected two children in Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala. In this article, we discuss the symptoms, causes, treatment, and prevention of the Norovirus. We also discuss whether or not we should be worried.

Norovirus: All You Need To Know About This Bug

Norovirus Symptoms: One of the most common symptoms of Norovirus is vomiting and nausea

What Is Norovirus?

A Norovirus is a group of viruses causing severe diarrhoea and vomiting. It is also known as the stomach flu although it is a virus. Norovirus is highly contagious and can be spread via people, infected food or surfaces.

Although the virus was first discovered in 1968 in Ohio, USA. The virus has recently caught more attention in India after two children in Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala were infected. As the virus is highly contagious, the health department has issued preventative measures across the state. However, firstly we must understand what we know about the virus. 

There are many different types of Norovirus present, making it tougher to prevent the virus. Treatment and protection against one type may not be adequate for a different type of Norovirus. Hence, one person can be infected by Norovirus more than once in their lifetime.

While most people can recover without hospitalisation, the virus is more potent and dangerous among children, toddlers and older citizens. People with a low or compromised immunity are also at risk of developing severe symptoms and complications.

Crowded places or closed spaces such as schools, metro, hospitals or markets help the virus spread faster.

What are the causes?

This virus is highly contagious and spreads rapidly. A single infected person can shed millions of Norovirus particles, while only a few are enough to spread the illness to someone else. The virus spreads even if you're asymptomatic.

The most common causes are:

  • Drinking water that has been in contact with a patient or contaminated by the virus.
  • Eating food that is contaminated or sharing with a patient.
  • Touching hands or being in close physical contact with a person who has the virus.
  • Touching unclean surfaces or sharing spaces with a patient. The virus can stay on open surfaces for days or even weeks.

 What are the symptoms?

Norovirus has been reported to have symptoms last only 1-3 days. Although the virus might exist in your system for a few weeks following. Some people might not experience any symptoms at all. However, if one does contract the Norovirus, the most common symptoms would be:

  • Lethargy
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhoea
  • Pain in muscles
  • Stomach ache
  • Fever
  • Dizziness

The symptoms in most cases subdue in a few days. If that is not the case, you might want to see your doctor again.

What are the preventive measures?

As discussed above, eating contaminated food, drinking unclean water and lack of hygiene may cause Norovirus. Hence, we must taken conscious efforts towards maintaining good hygiene. 

Here are some common preventive measures:

  • Wash hands regularly
  • Make sure to not keep food or water unattended outside for long hours
  • Keep your surroundings clean, for example, your washroom

How to treat Norovirus?

Norovirus usually travels through contaminated food, water or environment. If you or someone you know has been diagnosed with Norovirus you must take these measures. Please notes, these measures are to be taken along with the medication prescribed by your doctor post-diagnoses. 

Here's how to treat Norovirus:

  • Make sure to continue to keep your surroundings clean as the virus can spread from one's vomit, feces, etc. 
  • Wash your hands regularly
  • Drink ample water, diarrhoea and vomiting can significantly lower water levels in the body
  • Opt for hand sanitiser as well as hand washes.

To treat and recover from Norovirus “Hydration and sufficient rest is enough.” suggests physician Dr. Balamurugan.

Should we be worried?

There has been a lot of hysteria surrounding Norovirus and various other virtues since the covid-19 outbreak. Although Norovirus is also contagious, the symptoms usually last a short period. 

The best way to avoid contracting it is by staying clear of the different sources that might make you more prone to it. Dr. Balamurugan says, “Norovirus does not significantly affect healthy people but it can be serious in young children, the elderly, and people with comorbidities.” 

Hence, correct preventive measures and proper treatment can both serve helpful is reducing the severity of this virus. At last, keeping proper hygiene is the key to avoiding any and all viruses and infections. Make sure to also eat a proper diet and workout regularly. This helps boost your immunity which further helps shield the body from various external radicals.

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Disclaimer: This content including advice provides generic information only. It is in no way a substitute for a qualified medical opinion. Always consult a specialist or your own doctor for more information. NDTV does not claim responsibility for this information.


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