What is the norovirus?
Noroviruses together form a group of viruses; norovirus is a genus of viruses of the family Caliciviridae. These different strains of viruses are said to have developed from one species known as the Norwalk virus. When infected by noroviruses, the gastrointestinal system of the person is grossly affected.
Noroviruses cause the most cases of viral gastroentritis.
Alternative Names for Norovirus Infection
Sometimes, the disease is called stomach flu. Yet others call it food poisoning. The noroviruses can cause food poisoning, but other factors can also be the cause behind food poisoning, like germs and chemicals; it is not exclusive to noroviruses. Therefore, calling it food poisoning is misleading.
Spread of the infections
The virus is more common in winter. It can be transmitted in many ways. It is contagious, and hence can be transmitted from person to person.
- Consuming contaminated food; contaminated by faeces.
- Contact with contaminated air, as when someone is vomiting.
- Contact with contaminated surfaces.
- Contaminated shellfish.
- Drinking water contaminated with sewage.
Very minute amounts of the viruses can cause infection; experts have said that as few as 20 viruses can lead to infection. Some went even further, saying that 5 are enough to infect a person thoroughly.
Who can be infected by norovirus?
Anyone can contract the viruses. It is not restricted by age, gender, and other factors.
Symptoms of Norovirus Infection
- Abdominal pain
- Loss of taste
- Muscle aches
- Fever (low-grade, and sometimes, absent.)
- Stomach cramps
The symptoms show that it is primarily the gastrointestinal system which gets affected. This is because the virus causes inflammation of the stomach or intestine, or even both. This is what leads to the urge of vomitting and it explains the abdominal pain.
Recovery from Norovirus Infection
Recovery may occur in one or two days.
Treatment for Norovirus
No specific medication exists. Antibiotics do not work because the agent of infection is a virus and not bacteria. Antibiotics work only on such microorganisms as the bacteria.
One suffering from the infection should consume a lot of liquids because of the drastic loss of fluids via vomiting.
Intravenous fluids may be taken if the diseased person is too dehydrated, lest he is deprived of nutrients to an extent that this affects his survival. This would need hospitalization.
Prevention of Norovirus Infection
- Wash hands thoroughly after using the toilet.
- Wash hands before preparing food.
- People experiencing the symptoms should not go to school, work, and nor should they handle food.
- Avoid drinking untreated water.
- Cook shellfish before consumption.
Immunity Against Norovirus Infection
Immunity developed to the viruses of the group norovirus is not always complete. Sometimes, the immunity acquired to the pathogens are temporary and incomplete. It may last for half a year for one particular strain of virus.