Norovirus and You

Lifespan Blog Team

Our emergency departments across the Lifespan system have been seeing a recent increase in cases of Norovirus. Norovirus is a highly contagious viral infection that is passed easily from person to person. It’s important that you are aware of the symptoms of the virus, ways to prevent it and when to seek medical attention.

Symptoms

People with the Norovirus experience a quick onset of feeling extremely ill with vomiting and diarrhea for one to two days. Other symptoms can include fever, body aches, and stomach pains.

Spread

People with Norovirus are contagious from the moment they begin to feel ill, and can remain contagious for several days to weeks after symptoms subside and they recover. It is easily spread to others through food or liquids contaminated with the virus, touching surfaces with the virus, or having direct contact with a person with the virus. Norovirus can spread rapidly in places where people are close together, such as schools, day care centers, nursing homes.

Treatment

Because it is a virus, antibiotics are not an option to treat Norovirus. Those infected should drink plenty of liquids to prevent dehydration that could occur as a result of vomiting and diarrhea.

Be sure to watch for signs of dehydration, which include little to no urine, or extremely dark urine, lack of tears, sunken eyes, and lethargy. If you experience these symptoms, you should seek medical attention so that we can rehydrate you with intravenous fluids.

Prevention

“The most important thing you can do to protect yourself and your family is simply good hand hygiene. Make sure everyone washes their hands for at least 30 seconds before eating or preparing food, and after going to the bathroom,” said Rebecca Reece, MD, a physician in the Lifespan department of infectious diseases and an assistant professor of medicine at the Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University.

Other things to help prevent the spread of Norovirus:

  • Do not share food or drinks with an infected person
  • Be sure to decontaminate all surfaces using a cleaner that contains bleach, especially in the kitchen and bathroom
  • Thoroughly wash contaminated clothing and bed linens.

For more information, visit the Rhode Island Department of Health website or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Norovirus page.

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