You may know norovirus illness being referred to as “food poisoning” or “stomach flu.” Food poisoning can be caused by noroviruses, but other germs and chemicals can also cause food poisoning too. Norovirus causes nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea that usually lasts a couple of days. Symptoms usually occur 12-48 hours after being exposed to the virus but severity and duration is usually increased among the elderly. There isn’t a specific cure for the virus but replacement of fluids to avoid dehydration is extremely important.
The virus is easily transmitted from one person to another through contact of an infected person, consuming contaminated food/water or touching contaminated surfaces or objects. The exposure dosage of becoming ill is very low; it only takes as few as 10 – 100 virus particles to cause illness. Outbreaks in norovirus are extremely common because it is easily spread from one person to another and the fact that the virus is able to survive in the environment for many days. The most common places that are prone to an outbreak are semi-closed environments like hospitals, nursing homes, schools and cruise ships where people are in close contact with one another for long-term periods.
To minimise outbreaks and exposure, decontamination of surfaces is important to control the spread of the virus. The virus is fairly persistent so it can continue to stay on surfaces for longer. Outbreaks can be fairly difficult to control because of how easy the virus can be transmitted but the most effective way to respond to an outbreak is to introduce good hygiene measures. These include a strict adherence to washing hands especially when handling food, after contact with infected people and after using the toilet. It takes about 30 seconds of vigorous rubbing using hot water and soap to wash away the tiny bits of virus, and that means getting under the nails, too. However, if the access to a bathroom or sink is not as easy then keeping a pack of anti-bacterial wipes with you at all times will be beneficial - this way you are able to wipe your hands anytime you feel is necessary.
There are products that contain “Hydrogen Peroxide” cleaner as well as bleach sprays and wipes that effectively kill and remove bacteria and virus particles. Using products that contain these ingredients have proven to efficiently decontaminate infected surfaces. If you plan on using wipes that contain these ingredients, especially bleach, it is important to handle with care. Since it’s a very strong substance, using gloves and sometimes a face mask, is helpful to avoid any inhalations or damage to the skin.
Outbreaks are shortened if control measures are implemented quickly. Thankfully, norovirus has no long-term effects and as long as you prepare yourself properly from catching it or minimise the risks of spreading it if you’re infected. There is no specific treatment if you’re suffering from norovirus; you unfortunately just have to let it run its course. However, it is really important to drink plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration too.
If you’re suffering from norovirus, here are our top 3 things you need to minimise suffering and contamination:
- Drink plenty of fluids – dehydration will make you worse – if water is too boring for you, opt for juice as well. Try and regulate a normal eating pattern too as best as you can. Food is just as important as fluids.
- Have 2 types of wipes with you at all times: antibacterial hand wipes and disinfectant surface wipes. Minimise the risk of spreading anymore viral particles wherever you go and whatever you do.
- Get plenty of rest. Be thankful that you can sleep-in (albeit not for good reasons) and get as much rest as possible until you start feeling better.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Public Health England
The DIS Discussion Forums