How it spreads and what you need to know to protect yourself


HHealth agencies across India are on alert after at least 13 confirmed cases of norovirus were recorded in Kerala’s Wayanad district. The disease was first reported in some students at a veterinary college in Pookode two weeks ago.

Here’s what the virus is, how it spreads, its symptoms, and what you can do to protect yourself.

What is norovirus?

According to the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), norovirus it is a contagious virus that is “the most common cause of acute gastroenteritis in the world, causing an estimated 685 million cases annually.”

It is generally more common in the colder winter months, with most outbreaks occurring from November to April. Hence, it is sometimes referred to as the ‘winter vomiting virus’.

Symptoms

The most common symptoms are the sudden onset of severe diarrhea, vomiting, nausea, and stomach cramps. Some people may also experience fever, headaches, and body aches. These symptoms usually start 12 to 48 hours after being infected with norovirus and generally last between one and three days.

How it spreads

Like all viruses, norovirus needs a host to survive for a long period of time. Therefore, it is transmitted from person to person and is very contagious. It can be transmitted by direct contact with an infected person, contact with a contaminated surface, and consuming contaminated food or water.

According to the Mayo Clinic, norovirus transmissions They occur most often in crowded places like hospitals, schools, universities, restaurants, and cruise ships. As a result, norovirus is often referred to as the ‘cruise ship virus’ because of how quickly it spreads in confined spaces.

Diagnosis

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Examination of stool samples is the preferred method of diagnosing norovirus, although other tests are also available. Diagnosis can also be made based solely on symptoms.

Treatment

Most people infected with norovirus recover at home with enough rest and fluid intake to prevent dehydration. That said, the virus can be fatal – it causes severe malnutrition and dehydration if it stays in your body for too long. As such, patients with severe symptoms may need to be treated in a hospital with fluids. Unfortunately, there is no specific drug for the disease.

Therefore, if you have a weakened immune system or are pregnant and suspect that you may be infected, visit a doctor.

Prevention

The best way to prevent the spread of norovirus is by maintaining good personal hygiene and a clean environment. Disinfect surfaces frequently, especially when someone in the neighborhood has developed symptoms. Also, avoid stale food, food exposed outside, or food cooked by someone who may be sick.

In accordance with the guidelines issued by the Ministry of Health,

“Wash your hands well with soap and water before eating and after using the bathroom. Those who interact with animals should pay special attention. Chlorinate drinking water fountains, wells, and storage tanks with powdered bleach. Use chlorinated water for domestic use. Use only boiled water for drinking. Fruits and vegetables should only be used after they have been thoroughly washed. Sea fish and shellfish such as crab and mussels should only be eaten after they are well cooked ”.

If you or someone in your household has been infected with norovirus, make sure you have minimal contact with other members. Also, wash your clothes and other contaminated items with hot water and detergent.

If you have similar symptoms, wait at least two days after you recover before preparing meals or caring for others. It is important to note that there are several types of norovirus, so having the disease does not protect one from re-infection.

(Edited by Vinayak Hegde)



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