'Tis the season: Norovirus

The first cases of Norovirus outbreaks are generally seen in November and can last all the way until April.  Norovirus is highly contagious and can be transmitted anywhere an infected individual has been.  This virus is the leading cause of foodborne-disease outbreaks in the United States as well.  Symptoms include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and stomach pain and can also include fever, headache, and body aches.  Norovirus generally only lasts one to three days, but can cause severe illness and even death based on other medical conditions an individual may have when becoming infected.  

Older adults are more susceptible to the Norovirus, particularly those that reside in long-term care settings.  Certain age groups, such as small children and older adults, tend to become dehydrated more quickly when infected with Norovirus.  Decrease in urination, feeling dizzy when standing up, and a dry mouth and throat are symptoms of dehydration.  Rehydration is vital during this illness.  Plenty of fluids should be consumed that do not contain caffeine or alcohol to assist with rehydration.  Rehydrating fluids that can be purchased over the counter may be necessary to replenish the nutrients and minerals lost while infected.  

Handwashing is the most effective way to prevent becoming infected or transmitting your infection to others.  An individual that has come in contact with an infected individual should thoroughly wash his or her hands, as well as any surface that individual may have touched.  It is recommended that an individual does not eat or drink after anyone that has been infected.  Keeping your living area clean

If you have had the Norovirus and need to visit a long-term care facility, it is recommended that you do not visit for at least three days after your symptoms have stopped.  Although symptoms may have stopped, an infected individual is still “shedding” the infection and is still highly contagious.  The shedding can occur for up to two weeks after symptoms cease.  

For more information on Norovirus symptoms, transmission, and treatment, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website (www.cdc.gov) has excellent information.  The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) website (www.epa.gov) also has a list of approved registered antimicrobial products that are effective disinfecting agents against Norovirus.  Stay Healthy!

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