Everything you need to know about your symptoms, treatment, and prevention

Kerala has recently confirmed that highly infectious norovirus has been detected in the southern state. The outbreak was detected in 13 veterinary students in the Wayanad district. Kerala Health Minister Veena George emphasized the need to be vigilant as the ministry issued several guidelines for people to adhere to.

“There is currently no cause for concern, but everyone needs to be vigilant. Activities including superchlorination are taking place. Drinking water sources must be ensured that they are hygienic,” George said.

With proper prevention and treatment, the disease can be cured quickly. Therefore, everyone should know about the disease and its means of prevention, he added.

What is norovirus and why should we be concerned?

Norovirus is an extremely contagious virus that causes vomiting and diarrhea and can spread to people of all ages. Sometimes called the “winter vomiting virus” or stomach flu or stomach virus, it is not related to other viruses that cause the flu.

The virus has a short incubation period of only 24 to 48 hours, after which patients begin to experience stomach pain, vomiting, and diarrhea. While most patients make a full recovery without any medical treatment within 1-3 days, some require urgent medical attention to treat the resulting dehydration. These groups include the elderly, infants, and people with pre-existing medical conditions and comorbidities.

How does it spread?

The virus spreads through small particles that are present in the feces and vomit of infected people. Microscopic viral particles can contaminate food, water, and surfaces and spread to other people. Norovirus spreads easily because it only takes a small number of particles to infect an individual.

The disease is transmitted by animals and is first transmitted through humans through water or food that has been contaminated by animal droppings. This can be by contact or other vectors such as flies and cockroaches. In Wayanad, it is assumed that the students were first infected through an infected animal.

According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), an infected person can shed billions of viral particles during the course of their illness. Although the illness only lasts a few days, people can still spread virus particles for weeks.

The virus generally spreads in confined spaces such as hospitals, nursing homes, daycare centers, schools, and cruise ships; places where it is easier for infected people to contaminate food and water. Like other viral illnesses, some people may be infected with the virus but do not show any signs or symptoms of illness. These asymptomatic individuals can still infect others and are often the main cause of the viral outbreak.


Diarrhea, vomiting, nausea, and stomach pain are common symptoms of the disease, while fever, body aches, and headaches are also sometimes observed.

Due to fluid loss, some patients can quickly become dehydrated. Some common symptoms of dehydration are being thirsty, urinating that is dark yellow and strong smelling, feeling dizzy or lightheaded, feeling tired, having dry mouth, lips and eyes, urinating less than four times a day and in a small volume . If a patient is suspected of being dehydrated, an adequate fluid intake should be ensured for a prolonged period along with a constant supply of electrolytes.

Serious symptoms of dehydration include urinating small amounts of dark-colored urine or not urinating, severe diarrhea or vomiting, and muscle cramps. In such cases, immediate medical help should be sought as severe and even moderate dehydration can lead to seizures, permanent brain damage, and even death.


There is no specific medicine to treat norovirus infection. However, patients should increase their fluid intake in the form of soups, juices, oral rehydration solutions, electrolytes, and water to avoid dehydration. Most patients can recover within 72 hours of the onset of their symptoms, but patients should be careful not to transmit the disease to others, as they can still shed viral particles after recovering.


Proper hygiene is essential to prevent infection. Washing your hands with soap before eating or handling food, cleaning and disinfecting surfaces, and maintaining proper hygiene when you are sick can stop the spread of disease. It is also recommended to ensure that infected people stay away from people who are at risk of becoming seriously ill.

(Edited by : Anshul)

First published: IST

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