Norovirus

Norovirus has made the news quite often lately because it has caused hundreds of people to become ill on cruise ships on several different occasions. While the virus is common in confined areas like cruises, this doesn’t mean it cannot affect anyone on dry land. In fact, it does and there are food borne outbreaks of the condition every single year.

What Is It?

Norovirus is actually a name for a group of different viruses. It isn’t just one specific issue. However, all of the viruses in the group cause inflammation of the stomach as well as the lining of the large intestine.

Often, it can be transmitted through contaminated food, so it is often the main cause of food poisoning. Some of the most common culprits include undercooked oysters, raw fruits, and raw vegetables. In addition to coming in contact through contaminated foods, norovirus can be transmitted through touching an object or surface that has been contaminated and then touching the mouth, eyes, and nose. The norovirus group of viruses are very resilient. They can survive extreme temperatures and being subjected to water. As a result, they are hard to kill and this leads to outbreaks.

Because of the nature of this virus, it often causes outbreak in daycare centers, restaurants, cruise ships, schools, and nursing homes.

The Symptoms

Norovirus is often called the stomach flu just because all of the symptoms affect the digestive system. These symptoms include:

  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea (most common indicator)
  • Stomach cramps
  • Vomiting

These are the most common signs, but some people also experience headache, low grade fever, muscle aches, and fatigue.

Some people who catch the virus do not exhibit any symptoms whatsoever.

How Serious Is It?

Norovirus on its own isn’t really that serious and will usually go away. However, because of the severe watery diarrhea, many people who are suffering from norovirus become dehydrated. It is important that anyone especially susceptible including the elderly and small children are kept hydrated and are given nutritional supplements.

How It Norovirus Treated

Because norovirus is a virus, antibiotic treatment doesn’t work. There are some cases where doctors may recommend an antiviral drug, but that is rare since the condition will go away in just a couple of days all on its own. The treatment usually involves basic home care, including:

  • Providing plenty of fluids to avoid dehydration
  • Oral rehydration solution, if needed
  • Rest
  • Over the counter headache medication

If the dehydration gets too severe, then an IV may be needed in a doctor’s office. However, in most cases, it is possible to manage the condition at home for a few days until it clears up.

Avoiding Norovirus

Because this is a highly contagious condition, you need to take as many steps as possible to avoid becoming sick.

  • Wash your hands with antibacterial soap regularly or use hand sanitizer.
  • Wash fruits and vegetables very well before eating them raw.
  • Cook all shellfish before eating it.
  • Clean surfaces with a disinfectant.
  • Properly dispose of contaminated items.

By taking the steps to prevent norovirus from spreading, it can often be stopped before it becomes a bigger issue.

If you are living in a nursing home, or you have a loved one who is, and norovirus affects them, there may be serious cause for concern. Elderly individuals are especially prone to the more serious symptoms of the virus. If something has happened, then it may be the best decision to contact an attorney who is experienced with nursing home neglect or abuse cases. This way, you or your loved one can get the legal representation needed. While norovirus is not that serious of a condition, it can be for elderly individuals, especially when left untreated properly.

Resources:

http://www.webmd.com/children/norovirus-symptoms-and-treatment?page=2

 

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