Lifestyle Changes For Norovirus Infection

Norovirus infection is a viral infection that causes acute gastroenteritis in a wide range of ages, from infants to the elderly. It takes time to recover completely as it destroys the immune system of the body.

It occurs frequently in the winter, and the epidemic begins in November and peaks in December and February. However, it can occur throughout the year.

Norovirus, the causative virus, grows only in the human intestinal tract, but is resistant to dryness and heat, and can survive for long periods in natural environments.

Infectivity is very strong, and even a small amount of virus (10 to 100) can infect an individual.

Non-enveloped viruses are known for their high resistance to alcohol disinfectants and heat. Recently, new acid-alcohol disinfectants have shown effectiveness against these viruses.(1)(2)

Lifestyle Changes For Norovirus Infection

Norovirus does not have an effective antiviral agent and is symptomatically treated. Infants and children with weak resistance, especially when infected, are prone to dehydration symptoms. When symptoms subside a little, replenish water little by little or else this may cause nausea and vomiting.

If dehydration is severe, treatment such as infusion at the hospital is required. Please note that taking diarrhea prevention because of severe diarrhea symptoms may cause the virus to accumulate in the intestinal tract and delay recovery. Also, it is important to monitor patients carefully because the vomit can block the airways and cause suffocation.(2)(3)

The Disposal Method Of Feces And Vomit

Soil (vomit and excrement) may contain a large amount of norovirus. In order to prevent the spread of the infection, please observe the following points:

  • Wash your hand thoroughly after handling them
  • Use strong disinfectants (acid-alcohol)
  • Gargle with warm water
  • Dispose of the soil proper place (not in a public place)(4)

There is no vaccination against the norovirus. Therefore, consistent and careful hygiene measures are the only way to avoid contamination by greasy or droplet infection. The following tips can protect you from a norovirus infection:

  • If you are in contact with a patient with Norovirus, regularly disinfect your hands. You may need to wear disposable gloves when caring for a sick person.
  • Disinfect sanitary facilities, doorknobs, fittings, and surfaces with which sick people may have come into contact. The norovirus could adhere to these places.
  • It is best to use your own toilet until the symptoms have subsided.
  • The best way to remove vomit and stool is with disposable towels.
  • Wash bed linen, towels, and underwear from sick people at a temperature of at least 60°C.
  • Careful hand hygiene is still necessary even if those affected have long felt healthy again. They excrete the pathogen for a few days or in some cases for a month.

The norovirus can be particularly dangerous for older and immunocompromised people. Anyone who has caught the virus should not visit an old people’s home or hospital for a few days even after getting treated and feeling healthy again.(3)

What Are The Symptoms Of Norovirus Infection?

After entering the body, norovirus grows in epithelial cells of the small intestine and causes symptoms such as vomiting, nausea, diarrhea, and abdominal pain. This is because it decreases the signals between motor nerves and causes paralysis of the stomach. The incubation period is 12 to 48 hours.

It is characterized by sudden and intense vomiting or nausea that turns the stomach upside down.

Fever is mild at about 37-38°C, and adults seem to have strong symptoms such as nausea and abdominal bloating. Symptoms usually subside after about 1 to 2 days of onset.

Diarrhea is watery and in severe cases, it can happen dozens of times a day. It usually subsides to 2-3 times. Other symptoms include headaches, muscle pain, and fever.(2)

Watch Out For “Subclinical Infections” Without Symptoms

Despite being infected with norovirus, the virus may be discharged into the stool without any special symptoms such as vomiting. This is called “subclinical infections”. Even if you are asymptomatic, you may be infected (when anyone close to you in the surroundings is infected and has symptoms) and may become a source of infection without being aware of it. Special care should be taken when handling food.(2)

References:

  1. Robilotti E, Deresinski S, Pinsky BA. Norovirus. Clinical microbiology reviews. 2015;28(1):134-164.
  2. Pringle K, Lopman B, Vega E, Vinje J, Parashar UD, Hall AJ. Noroviruses: epidemiology, immunity and prospects for prevention. Future microbiology. 2015;10(1):53-67.
  3. Cardemil CV, Parashar UD, Hall AJ. Norovirus infection in older adults: epidemiology, risk factors, and opportunities for prevention and control. Infectious Disease Clinics. 2017;31(4):839-870.
  4. Kambhampati A, Koopmans M, Lopman BA. Burden of norovirus in healthcare facilities and strategies for outbreak control. Journal of Hospital Infection. 2015;89(4):296-301.

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