(NORE-oh VIE-russ) – or Noro, is a very common illness. You may have experienced this disease, and called it the stomach flu. Norovirus can affect anyone, at any time. It isn’t normally a fatal disease although it can cause hospitalization with severe dehydration for some people.
As with many viruses, Noro spreads easily from person to person. It can also be spread through food, especially food that is not cooked – like sandwiches, desserts, salads or anything that has been touched by bare hands. Oysters grown in contaminated water can also be the culprit. The virus can hang around on surfaces for a long time, and is not easily killed by casual cleaning (wiping down with a cloth). This illness spreads quickly in groups of people who are kept in close quarters (nursing homes, day cares, cruise ships).
Norovirus symptoms usually include explosive vomiting, and watery diarrhea. These may start in as little as 12 hours after encountering the virus. It usually clears up in one or two days, except for those needing hospitalization. Sometimes headache or fever can be present. As with any virus, antibiotics will not help; rest and rehydration are the best cures.
The best prevention for norovirus is really thorough handwashing, especially if you’re around someone who is sick.