Norovirus spreading across the US: What to know about symptoms and treatment

Posted at 3:23 PM, Feb 09, 2023

DETROIT (WXYZ) — It is unfortunate that Norovirus cases have indeed recently spiked. But should we expect a surge?

If you look at CDC data, you can see that in late January, the trajectory of positive tests is almost straight up. In addition, we’ve had 225 reported outbreaks this season so far, compared to 172 last season. But despite this, we’re actually within the expected range that we typically see at this time of the year.

Now, Norovirus is often called the stomach flu. But it’s not related to the flu at all. Noroviruses are actually a group of viruses. There are many different types, and they’re very common and very contagious. People can suffer from vomiting, diarrhea, nausea, and stomach pain. Some may also develop fever, headache, and body aches. Noroviruses can also cause acute gastroenteritis, which is inflammation of the stomach or intestines.

For most people, getting infected is just a nuisance, and you might not feel well for a few days. But some infections can be severe and lead to severe dehydration and even death. It can be especially dangerous for babies, older adults, the immunocompromised, and pregnant women. Anyone that is high risk or has lasting symptoms should see their doctor. Every year, according to the CDC, Norovirus causes roughly 109,000 hospitalizations and 900 deaths.

As for treatment, there is no antiviral or specific treatment. So it’s extremely important to replace lost fluids to avoid dehydration. Water, sports drinks, broths, or oral rehydration solutions work well.

As for preventing infection, it’s important to wash your hands with warm, soapy water for 20 seconds - especially after using the bathroom, changing diapers, and before you prepare or eat any foods. The reason is the virus is shed in stool and vomit. And it only takes a small number of particles to spread the virus. People can pick up these particles by touching contaminated surfaces, objects, foods, or drinks. And they can stay on surfaces and objects for days or weeks. So if you or a loved one is sick, it’s best to stay home until you’re feeling better. That will help the virus from spreading in our communities.

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