What Is Norovirus, the Contagious Stomach, and Intestinal Virus Spreading Right Now?

All important information regarding Norovirus is discussed in this article such as what is norovirus, whether Is there a test for norovirus, Norovirus Symptoms, Norovirus Treatment, and Norovirus Prevention, etc.

The winter of 2018 has brought large waves of illness, including RSV and flu. Now, another virus is making the rounds and it’s not pretty. Cases of norovirus are increasing across the U.S., according to information from the Centres of the Control for Disease and Prevention(CDC) and CDC, with the most dramatic increase in positive testing for this virus occurring from late January 2023.

Norovirus is known as being extremely aggressive and can trigger vomiting and diarrhea and vomiting, often simultaneously. Norovirus tends to be seasonal, with cases typically soaring into the months of February and March, and it’s normal to ask questions when it’s circulating. 

So, how do you tell whether you’re suffering from norovirus and what you can do to protect yourself from the spread of this disease? Doctors weigh on.

What is Norovirus?

Norovirus is one of the related viruses. Infection by these viruses triggers gastroenteritis disease, where inflammation develops in the stomach and the intestines.

Is there a test for norovirus?

There’s the test for norovirus however the majority of people suffering from the virus don’t really get the virus. The test examines your poop, and so it’s not something that your doctor of primary care would normally recommend for you, says an expert on infectious diseases Amesh A. Adalja, M.D. who is an associate professor of the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security.

If you’re suffering from a serious case of norovirus however you could be checked against the infection. “I use it on inpatients as part of a GI pathogen panel for those hospitalized with diarrhea,” Dr. Adalja says.

The test specifically searches for viral DNA (i.e. the virus DNA) inside your stool and is possible to perform in most labs, according to the CDC states.

Norovirus Treatment

There’s no specific medication for norovirus. However, there are some options to consider should you get it. It is vital to drink plenty of water according to the doctor. Russo says, noting that you’ll lose lots of fluids from diarrhea and vomiting. 

“It can be hard because you feel nauseous, but it’s important,” he adds. It’s crucial to take small drinks of fluids if you’re having trouble keeping things down, according to William Schaffner, M.D., an infectious disease specialist and professor of medicine at the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine. “Gatorade is frequently recommended–it’s a balanced solution so that you get some nutrients and salt as well as your liquid,” Schaffner says.

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It is also possible to consider bismuth-based products like Pepto-Bismol to ease nausea and diarrhea Dr. Adalja says. If you’re struggling to hold anything within, contact your doctor. “Often, a primary care physician is able to call in antiemetics such as Zofran (ondansetron) to minimize the vomiting so hydration can occur,” Dr. Adalja says.

If nothing else works and you’re experiencing signs of water loss (you’re not peeing as often and you’re experiencing dry throat and dry mouth or you’re dizzy when you stand) You may have to visit the ER to get IV fluids.

“Norovirus makes you so sick for two or three days that you think you’re going to die–but then you get better,” Dr. Schaffner says.

Norovirus symptoms

People who contract norovirus typically experience symptoms between 12 and 48 hours after exposure and the majority recover within three to four days, as per the CDC. However, it’s not a pleasant experience to be afflicted with it.

“Having norovirus could be one of life’s most miserable experiences,” says Thomas Russo, M.D. director in infectious diseases for the University at Buffalo in New York. “People feel absolutely miserable.”

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Stomach cramps
  • Headache
  • Fever
  • Body aches

Norovirus Prevention

Hand washing with care is essential to prevent hand-scrubbing, The doctor. Adalja says. There’s no guarantee of getting norovirus if you or one of your relatives has it but it is a possibility. Dr. Russo says that “norovirus can be difficult to avoid if it gets into your household.”

If you’re able, you should take steps to keep the person from being around those who are sick the doctor. Schaffner advises. It’s also important to perform thorough hand washing to reduce the chance of getting infectious particles into your mouth. 

While it’s not a requirement however, it’s a good idea to consult Dr. Schaffner says that wearing masks can assist, as norovirus-related particles can become aerosolized in the event that a sick person has a bowel movement. (Another possible benefit of wearing a mask, according to Dr. Russo: It can aid in keeping your hands from touching your mouth.)

It’s a good idea to be aware There’s no vaccine available for norovirus. However, Dr. Schaffner says that scientists are researching. While you wait, continue maintaining good hand hygiene.

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