Part I discussed routes of exposure and symptoms for norovirus, Part II will address how to best prevent and/or minimize exposure. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the noroviruses are a group of viruses that cause gastroenteritis (an inflammatory process of the stomach and intestines). These can lead to a person experiencing nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and stomach cramping for a period of one to three days. Sometimes additional symptoms can also occur. The CDC also reports that the noroviruses are the leading cause after bacterial origins, of gastroenteritis. So understanding the routes of transmission and how you can prevent or minimize exposure is key.
It can pick a partner faster than a DWTS elimination.
This virus spreads quickly in closed, crowded environments. Some of these places could be in a nursing home, a mall, a hospital, or as we’ve recently been made aware, cruise ships. Touching contaminated surfaces or eating contaminated food can spread the virus. All it needs to do is get into your mouth to start that nasty little Tango with you.
You can choose to be a leader or a follower.
While norovirus is highly contagious, you can try to take some steps to minimize or prevent your exposure. There are several recommendations on this front:
- First and foremost, wash your hands. This cannot be stressed enough. Soap and water are the best methods to reduce contaminants on your hands. If however you don’t have ready access to soap and water, use a hand sanitizer with at least a 70% alcohol level to help reduce the viral load on your hands. Be vigilant about where you are putting your hands, and avoid eating with your fingers or touching your face. If you aren’t sure about how best to wash your hands, you can check out the Potty Prognosis.
- Report your situation. If you are on a cruise, or maybe experienced what you think was a norovirus after eating out or at a catered event, it is important to report this to the appropriate authorities. On the cruise ship tell the ship’s Doctor as soon as possible if you experience diarrhea. They will be able to judge best what your situation is, and put measures into place sooner than later to prevent the spread. Hopefully timely reporting can protect many, and not ruin the voyage for all. Eating out can also cause exposure problems. I had an experience a few months ago after trying to be good and ordering a salad for lunch while out with a friend. Within an hour of my arrival at home I was in a sorry condition. I had all the symptoms of the norovirus. I was sick as could be for a couple of days. This would have been a prime time to inform the Health Department and the restaurant of my troubles to try and prevent others from getting sick.
- Avoid preparing food for others if you suspect you have it. This is the quickest way to pass it to others. You are still infectious for as long as three days after your symptoms resolve too.
- Use can use a bleach solution to decontaminate surfaces. This should be done as soon as possible after areas are contaminated. You can find some specific direction on the CDC page .
- Wash linens immediately and well. When handling soiled linens, be careful not to agitate them so that the virus can go airborne. Fold contaminated sheets inwards to minimize aerosolization. If available wear gloves, and do not hold the linens against you, but away from you. The CDC recommends that you wash them on the longest wash cycle, and then follow up by putting them in the dryer to dry.
- You might consider traveling with your own little virucidal arsenal. If you will be taking a vacation to a place that could expose you to noroviruses you want to go armed with some basics to help you minimize your exposure. There are many portable bleach-based products for disinfecting these days that could prove useful. This sort of preparation would be really prudent if traveling with anyone who may be immune compromised, elderly, or especially young. People in these groups are especially vulnerable.