The norovirus is a highly contagious stomach and intestinal virus. It spreads via direct or indirect contact with an infected individual.
What are the signs?
The indications of infection typically start between 12-48 hours after exposure to the virus. The signs can range from minor to severe.
Some of the usual symptoms of norovirus include:
- Abdominal pain or cramps
- Nausea and vomiting
- Low-grade fever
- Generalized body aches
The signs typically last between 24-72 hours. A doctor must be seen if the symptoms are persistent or if the stools are streaked with blood. If diarrhea is severe, it can lead to dehydration which is considered as a medical emergency.
Management of norovirus
There is special treatment for norovirus. The treatment is mainly supportive with the objective of preventing dehydration.
Some of the self-care measures include:
- Adequate rest
- Increased intake of fluids – this involves replacement of electrolytes such as oral hydration solutions especially among infants and children. As for older children and adults, sports drinks or broths can be given.
- Diet – infants must continue with formula or breastfeeding. As for adults and children, suitable choices include rice, soups, plain noodles, pasta, eggs, fresh fruit, potatoes, yogurt and cooked vegetables.
An over-the-counter anti-diarrheal can be given if there is no fever, bloody stool or severe diarrhea.
What is the outlook?
The symptoms generally last around 12-48 hours after exposure to the virus. Among healthy adults, the norovirus is not typically serious. The signs might last for 1-3 days and most can fully recover.
Infants, elderly and those who have a weakened immune system might have a longer recovery period.