The infection, sometimes referred to as the winter vomiting bug, causes vomiting and diarrhoea and is easily transmissible
Kerala has been put on alert after at least 13 cases of norovirus have been recorded in Wayanad district.
The infection was reported in some 13 students of a veterinary college in Pookode near Vythiri in Wayanad district two weeks ago.
As State health minister Veena George asked people to be vigilant, here’s a look at what the virus is, its symptoms and what can be done to treat it.
What is norovirus?
Norovirus, sometimes referred to as the winter vomiting bug, is a contagious virus that causes vomiting and diarrhoea.
According to America’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, it is transmitted by direct contact with an infected person, consuming contaminated food or touching a contaminated surface and putting unwashed hands in the mouth.
The Mayo Clinic states that Norovirus infection occurs most frequently in closed and crowded environments such as hospitals, nursing homes, child care centres, schools and cruise ships.
The most common symptoms for the Norovirus infection is diarrhoea, vomiting, nausea, and stomach pain. Other symptoms include fever, headache and body ache.
Typically, signs and symptoms usually begin 12 to 48 hours after exposure to norovirus and last one to three days.
Prevention and treatment of norovirus
Doctors say that norovirus is highly contagious and anyone can become infected more than once.
Experts state one should wash hands thoroughly with soap and water. Also, people should avoid contaminated food and water, including food that could have been prepared by someone who was sick. Furthermore, rinse fruits and vegetables and cook shellfish thoroughly.
Kerala health ministry’s guidelines also stated that those who interact with animals should pay special attention.
It added that drinking water sources, wells and storage tanks must be chlorinated with bleaching powder. People must use chlorinated water for domestic use and drink only boiled water.
Also, stay home if you are unwell and continue to stay at home at least until two days after symptoms stop showing up. The most important thing is to rest and have lots of fluids to avoid dehydration.
England in July had reported a norovirus outbreak with more than 154 cases. Public Health England had said that the recent outbreak showed a three-fold increase in cases over the same time period during the previous five years.
China too suffered an outbreak in 2018, which saw over 157 people infected. Studies had shown that eating take-out food had caused the infections, leading the Asian giant to restrict off-campus dining and implementation of disinfection and case isolation measures.
In 2019, a handful of passengers of 10 European cruises had also come down with the infection. It was later found that the passengers on board the ship had all consumed a smoothie made from frozen fruits and berries, which was found to be the culprit of the whole incident.
With inputs from agencies