Norovirus is hitting hard this winter. It is the most common cause of foodborne disease outbreaks in the U.S.and often occurs in outbreaks where people are in close contact, such as dorms, schools,or nursing homes. The virus is currently sweeping through the U.S  school systems. A serious stomach bug, kids are being sent home and schools are being closed to prevent the spread of this ugly “stomach flu”. 

What’s the difference between norovirus and the flu?

Norovirus is a common gastrointestinal viral infection that causes a person to develop nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and occasionally stomach cramping. The person may feel fatigue, aching muscles, a headache, and a low grade fever accompanied by chills. The symptoms are expected to last approximately one to two days. Anyone can contract norovirus. The virus infects both children and adults, however people with suppressed immune function, the elderly, or those with other medical conditions may have a higher risk of complications.

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In most cases of norovirus, the infection usually resolves on its own within a few days. If  symptoms last longer than three days or the person becomes dehydrated, medical help should be sought, and children can be given Pedialyte. People with severe nausea and vomiting are often given medicine such as Promethazine or Ondansetron to reduce vomiting. Those who are suffering from dehydration may need intravenous fluids with electrolytes, and in severe cases, patients may require hospitalization until their fluids are replenished.

How to Prevent the Spread of Norovirus:

To prevent the spread of norovirus it is recommended to always wash your hands with soap and water. Very similar to the flu, norovirus can live on different surfaces so it is important to clean using a 10% bleach solution and carry a hand sanitizer to use after touching public surfaces.

Some of the most common surfaces to catch a bug like norovirus? The ATM machine, the subways and gas pumps, which are covered in transmittable germs.  Going to work while ill  should be avoided, especially for those working in the food or healthcare industry. Losing one employee for one day can prevent losing many for weeks. Proper cooking and handling of food supplies is also imperative in preventing outbreaks.

If you have any questions about norovirus,  or think you or a loved one may have contracted it, feel free to give us a call or stop by our New Britain AFC urgent care center where we have professionals available 7 days a week. We’re open 7 days a week, no appointment needed. Give us a call at 860-357-6899.