What is Norovirus infection?
Norovirus infection typically causes acute gastroenteritis. The incubation period is usually 12 – 48 hours. The common symptoms include nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, abdominal pain, low-grade fever and malaise, which are usually self-limiting. Most people get better within 1 – 3 days.
It is also a common cause of food poisoning and is usually related to consumption of undercooked shellfish. Norovirus can also cause outbreaks of acute gastroenteritis in settings where people are staying close together such as schools, elderly homes, hotels and cruise ships. The disease affects people of all age groups and tends to be more common during winter.
How does it spread?
The infection can be transmitted by food or water contaminated with the virus; by contact with vomitus or faeces from infected persons; by contact with contaminated objects; or by aerosol spread with contaminated droplets of splashed vomitus.
How can you prevent it?
There is no vaccine available for Norovirus infection. The best way to prevent it is to maintain high standards of personal, food and environmental hygiene.
It is important to wash hands with liquid soap and water before handling food, eating, after going to toilet or after changing diaper. Carefully wash fruits and vegetables before preparing and eating them. Cook all food, particularly shellfish, thoroughly before consumption.
Manage contaminated areas properly and immediately. Keep other people away from the contaminated areas during cleansing.
How is it treated?
Given adequate fluids to prevent dehydration and supportive treatment, the patient usually recovers within 1 – 3 days. Antibiotics are of no value in treatment.