Beth Ewing, RN, MSN, CNM, WHNP-BC serves as the Parish Nurse for both Abiding Christ and the Lutheran Saints in Ministry.
Norovirus illness is often called stomach flu or food poisoning. Norovirus is a germ that can cause foodborne illness (food poisoning). It is the most common germ that causes foodborne illness in the United States. Norovirus and flu may share some symptoms, but the flu is a respiratory illness caused by influenza virus, not norovirus.
19 to 21 million people get sick with norovirus each year in the United States. A person will get norovirus about 5 times during their lifetime. People of all ages can get norovirus. It causes sudden vomiting and diarrhea, and spreads quickly and easily to other people. If you think you have norovirus, stay hydrated and take steps to keep it from spreading. Most people sick with norovirus get better in 1 to 3 days.
Norovirus is very contagious. When you are sick with norovirus, you can shed billions of virus particles in your vomit and poop. It only takes a few of these particles to make someone sick.
You are most contagious
**However, you may still be able to spread norovirus for two weeks or more after you feel better.
You can spread Norovirus in many ways. If you are sick with norovirus, you can spread it to other people by having close contact, such as by caring for, preparing food, or sharing food or eating utensils with them. You can also spread norovirus to others by contaminating surfaces.
Take the following steps to keep Norovirus from spreading:
If you are sick with norovirus, do not prepare food for others while you have symptoms and for at least 2 days after symptoms go away.
Clean and disinfect surfaces:
Most people who get sick from norovirus will have these symptoms:
Some people may also have a fever, headache, or body aches.
Norovirus can be more serious for young children, the elderly, and people with other health conditions. It can lead to severe dehydration, hospitalization and even death. Dehydration can lead to serious problems. Severe dehydration may require hospitalization for treatment with fluids given through your vein (intravenous or IV fluids). Watch for signs of dehydration in children who have norovirus illness. Children who are dehydrated may cry with few or no tears and be unusually sleepy or fussy.
Drink plenty of liquids to replace fluids that are lost from vomiting and diarrhea. Sports drinks and other drinks without caffeine or alcohol can help with mild dehydration. But, these drinks may not replace important nutrients and minerals. Oral rehydration fluids that you can get over the counter are most helpful for mild dehydration.
If you think you or someone you are caring for is severely dehydrated, call your health care provider.
Beth Ewing, RN, MSN, CNM, WHNP-BC