What Is Norovirus: The rising number of norovirus infections among kids is a cause of concern. This is what has been reported a few days back when the infection due to this virus was found in two schoolchildren in Kerala, India.
People should be aware that norovirus is a highly contagious virus which generally spreads through contaminated foods and water. As it is highly virulent in nature, Kerala government had earlier asked its residents to be vigilant about their own health and hygiene.
This is what Kerala health minister Veena George said, “There is no need to be concerned at the moment but everyone should remain careful and maintain cleanliness,” he said.
It all happened after a number of students from veterinary college in Wayanad were found infected from norovirus last year in the month of November.
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What is Norovirus?
First, you need to understand what is a norovirus. The above class of viruses are known to cause diseases like diarrhea, vomiting, and nausea after it infects people. The virus is also known as stomach flu bug as it directly affects the gastrointestinal tract of the body.
Norovirus can not only affect children but also adults and generally gets transmitted through contaminated food and water.
As per the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Norovirus infection can happen several times as there exists a number of norovirus types. The problem is that the infection from one type of norovirus doesn’t protect the person from another one.
Human norovirus which was earlier called Norwalk virus, was first discovered in stools that was primarily gathered at the time of gastroenteritis outbreak happened in Norwalk, Ohio.
It was therefore found to be the first viral agent to have caused gastroenteritis. Due to the infection, patients had prevalence of vomiting among other symptoms. The illness due to this virus was first called “winter vomiting disease” in 1929.
The world witnessed an epidemic in the year 1968 when the virus was first discovered. It was found that as many as 09% patients had symptoms like nausea and 92% of them had vomiting. There were some other symptoms like diarrhea (38%), lethargy (52%), and abdominal cramps (58%).
How does the virus spread?
The infection due to norovirus can spread mainly through contaminated food or water.
The infection can also spread in humans by touching the infected surfaces and then putting fingers in mouth. In the same way, it can also cause infection by directly coming in contact with the infected person.
As per the CDC, people infected with norovirus release hundreds of norovirus particles which can’t be seen without a microscope. But it is to be noted that not all norovirus particles are capable of infecting others.
According to the Minnesota Department of Health, people who are already sick with the infection of norovirus can be asymptomatic but are still able to spread infection to others.
What are the symptoms?
As per the information given by the CDC, the most common symptoms due to the infection caused by these stomach viruses include inflammation of the stomach or intestines which is also known as acute gastroenteritis. The symptoms generally appear after 12 to 48 hours of getting an infection.
Now, as far as recovery goes, it generally takes 1 to 3 days to get fully recovered. Some of the most common norovirus symptoms include stomach discomfort, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.
Some other symptoms include body aches, headaches, and fever. The infection is also known to cause dehydration in children, adults and in those who are somewhat unwell.
The biggest problem of norovirus is that it is resistant to many disinfectants and withstand temperature up to 60°C.
Due to this, streaming of food or chlorinating water doesn’t kill the virus. Similarly, the virus can also survive in a number of common hand sanitizers.
The condition is generally found to be self contained. In most cases, the infection due to norovirus drains a person’s energy. In majority of cases, people need to take enough hydration and rest to get rid of the infection.
Now, the basic prevention is to always wash hands with soap, especially after using washroom. In the same way, it is also critical that one should wash hands before preparing food.
Special care needs to be taken during epidemics where surfaces need to be disinfected with the help of a 5,000 parts per million hypochlorite solution.
In order to diagnose the infection, RT-PCR (Real-time reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction) is employed. Currently, there is no vaccination to cure the infection from norovirus.