Norovirus is one of the most common reasons of causing acute stomach pain and gastroenteritis in the US (United States).
What is Winter Vomit Bug?
It is a group of viruses that inflames your intestines, or stomach or both and leads to the problems like stomach pain, diarrhea, vomiting and nausea. Norovirus is also known by names of winter vomiting bug, food poisoning and stomach flu. In the US, about 50% people reported having food related issues due to Norovirus.
Norovirus or winter vomiting bug is a highly contagious disease. This viral infection can affect anyone, many times in life. However, this virus can take hold of you anytime during the year but, it is commonly found more active in winters. In US, every year, approx. 19-21million people get infected with norovirus in which 56,000-71000 patients got hospitalized and 570-800 deaths were seen.
How Norovirus illness transmitted?
It can be transmitted to you accidentally if in case you come into the contact of vomit or stool particles of the infected person. This normally happens when:
- You are consuming food or liquid contaminated with norovirus
- Touching hands on the surface or things infected with virus particles and then put the fingers in your mouth.
- Come into the contact with someone who is infected with Norovirus
- From foods that are involved in norovirus transmission like leafy vegetables, shellfish (oyster) and fresh fruits.
When are you most contagious?
- If you are sick with norovirus illness.
- During the starting days (first few days) when you are recovering from the illness .
Common Norovirus outbreaks in US
Heath care facilities: – In the United States, health care facilities like hospitals and nursing homes have mainly reported the norovirus outbreaks. It happens due to the infection transmitted from infected patients to the other people like visitors and staff. As compared to other people, the illness becomes more severe in hospitalized or nursing patients.
Restaurant and catered Events: – In the US, norovirus outbreaks mostly occur through contaminated food, served in the places like restaurants and other food joints. Eating ready-to-eat food, fruits, vegetables and seafood’s prepared with bare hands are responsible for spreading norovirus. It also occurs in family dinners, parties and banquet halls where food is prepared and served by others. For example: – Oysters collected from the contaminated water can be the reason of causing norovirus outbreaks.
Schools and other institutions: – Institutional settings like schools, colleges, military encampments, child care centers are commonly coming into the range of Norovirus outbreaks. In schools and colleges, students or staff come into the contact of each other and are infected with same virus, they are the main cause of spreading of this illness.
Cruise ships: – Norovirus is one of the major reasons of causing diarrhea in cruises and ships. It’s a challenging task to control norovirus on cruises or ships because of the close contact of people where they share same dining areas and other things. According to the studies over 90% of the cases of diarrhea were seen due to norovirus. The contaminated food and water can be served in the ships which leads to spreading of norovirus. Since, norovirus is resistant to many disinfectants, it can persist on any surface.
WHAT ARE THE NOROVIRUS SYMPTOMS?
A person infected with norovirus develops the symptoms within 12 to 48 hours and feels extremely ill with vomiting and diarrhea. Mostly patients feel thirsty and may face trouble in keeping fluid down. Some of the Norovirus symptoms in adults are:-
- Stomach pain, cramps
- Nausea and vomiting
- Fever, aches.
The symptoms of norovirus in children are different from adults. Babies and young children may not complain for the thirst, but they become lethargic and pale due to dehydration. The signs of dehydration in children are drowsiness, cold hands or feet, very few wet nappies and fast breathing. Vomiting is a very common symptom of norovirus in children.
Note: – If you find something severe then consult your doctor immediately.
There is no specific medicine or vaccine for norovirus treatment. The antibiotics do not work with norovirus illness as they are designed for killing bacterial infection and not viral. If you are suffering with Norovirus infection, then you should keep yourself hydrated by drinking plenty of water to replace the less fluid condition caused due to vomiting and diarrhea. You can also include other liquid items like energy drinks, juices and caffeine & alcohol free drinks to overcome from mild dehydration. In cases of severe dehydration, it is better to call the doctor.
HOW TO PREVENT NOROVIRUS INFECTION?
Learn some simple prevention steps to protect yourself and others from noroviruses infection.
a) Wash your Hands Properly
- Keep your hands clean by washing it properly with soap and water, especially after using toilet or changing baby diapers.
- Before cooking food or eating food.
- After washing hands you can additionally wash hand with alcohol based Sanitizers. But, don’t make it as a substitute for washing with soap and water
b) Wash vegetables and fruits
- Give proper attention in the kitchen. Before cooking or eating, don’t forget to wash vegetables and fruit properly.
- Cook the sea food properly. Throw out the food which might be contaminated with norovirus.
c) Clean the contaminated surfaces
- After vomit or having diarrhea, make sure to clean the contaminated surfaces immediately with bleach-based disinfecting wipe.
- If you don’t have cleaning product then make a solution of cleaning by adding 5 table spoons of household bleach with 1 gallon of water.
d) Don’t cook when you are sick
- If you are infected with norovirus, then you should not cook food for at least 2 or 3 days, even after you will feel better.
- Also, don’t eat food which has been prepared by the person who is sick.
e) Wash clothes thoroughly
- Don’t ignore to wash cloths which are contaminated with stool or vomit.
- Use gloves while washing clothes or linens to avoid spreading virus.
- Wash soiled item carefully with detergent for maximum length cycle and dry it in machine.
NATURAL REMEDIES FOR NOROVIRUS
It slightly complicated to treat norovirus then bacterial infection as it is less susceptible to antibiotics and alcohols. However, you can adopt some natural remedies for norovirus that helps in preventing the condition.
Keep hydrated:- drink plenty of water to keep yourself hydrated. Also, include electrolyte beverage that balance all the nutrients and mineral content in the body.
Ginger:- This magical herb enriched with anti-inflammatory properties helps reduce stomach pain as well as provides immense relief in reducing vomit and nausea.
Peppermint:- It helps in lessening spasmodic pain as well as provides ease in vomiting and nausea. Peppermint is also having magnesium and potassium that plays a vital role in balancing the pH level of the body and helps in digestion process by activating digestive enzymes.
Echinacea: – This herb possesses antiseptic and anti-microbial properties that helps in flushing out the toxins of your body and offer ease in your inflammation.
Slippery Elm: – It is an amazing herb that offers calming effect to your disturbed belly. Moreover, it also supplies food for enhancing the growth of good bacteria inside the body and beneficial for improving stomach problems. Due to its incredible benefits, it is especially used for kids who are troubled with diarrhea.
Vitamin B6: – It is an effective supplement for curing norovirus when you take it immediately upon feeling sick. Vitamin B6 supports your immune system and works well in killing virus. But, to avail its benefits you should take it at first stage of illness.
Apple Cider Vinegar: –Mix apple cider vinegar with water and take it as a tonic to flush out the harmful toxins of the body. It keeps your system clean without reducing the nutrients of the system.
WHAT FOOD TO EAT AFTER NOROVIRUS RECOVERY?
Prefer to consume a liquid diet at least for 24 hours until all the symptoms of Norovirus have been gone. Here are few suggestions for guidance on what food to eat immediately after norovirus….
A. Liquid food
After norovirus, it’s important to keep the body hydrated, might be you need an electrolyte beverage to fulfil deficiency of mineral content in your body. Therefore, you should include liquid food in your diet that keep you hydrated and soothes your stomach. Below are some food items which plays a vital role in replacing the liquid lost cause due to vomiting as well as accomplish the sodium content in the body. Some liquid food that you can eat after Norovirus are-
- Low sodium vegetable soup
- Clear liquids (water, clear soda or sports drink)
- Chicken Noodle Soup
- Chicken broth
B. Solid Food
Among solid food, BRAT DIET is recommended for the patients who are suffering with gastroenteritis or upset stomach problem. The BRAT DIET comprises of low fiber foods which are easily digestible and provide all essential nutrients to the body. Foods include in BRAT DIET are:
Some other food items like saltine cracker, baked skinless chicken and baked potatoes can also be included in the diet to get enough calories and nutrients required by the body.