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Norovirus is a very contagious virus. Anyone can get the virus from an infected person, or contaminated food or water. You can get it by touching contaminated surfaces. The virus can make your stomach or intestines inflamed, which can lead to stomach pain, nausea, diarrhea and vomiting. These symptoms can be serious for some people, especially young children and older adults.
You began to notice symptoms within 12 to 48 hours after being exposed to the norovirus. Symptoms usually last between one and three days. There is no specific medicine to treat people with norovirus illness. It is virus, so antibiotics are not helpful. If you are diagnosed with norovirus illness, drink plenty of liquids to replace fluid lost from diarrhea and vomiting. It will help prevent dehydration.
You can take steps to prevent getting norovirus. You should avoid:
- eating food or drinking liquids prepared by someone with norovirus
- touching surfaces or objects contaminated with norovirus then putting your fingers in your mouth,
- having contact with someone infected with norovirus (for example, caring for or sharing food or eating utensils with someone with norovirus illness).
Alcohol-based hand sanitizers can be used in addition to hand washing, but hand washing is the best way to prevent spreading the virus.Be aware that noroviruses are resistant. They can survive temperatures as high as 140°F and quick steaming processes often used for cooking shellfish. Any food that might be contaminated with norovirus should be thrown out. Keep sick infants and children out of areas where food is being handled and prepared.
When you are sick, do not prepare food or care for others who are sick. You should not prepare food for others or provide healthcare while you are sick and for at least 2 days after symptoms stop. This also applies to sick workers in settings such as schools and daycares where they may expose people to norovirus.
Many local and state health departments require food workers and preparers with norovirus illness to stay out of work until at least 48 hours after symptoms stop. If you were recently sick, you can be given different duties in the restaurant, such as working at a cash register or hosting.
For more information, visit the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
- Alex Ronin, NP-C