Norwalk Virus Symptoms

Save

We've all heard stories about cruise ships being evacuated and thoroughly cleaned because hundreds of people came down with unpleasant gastrointestinal symptoms instead of enjoying the fun-filled vacation they had hoped for. These outbreaks are known as Norwalk virus and while the symptoms are very undesirable, most people don't suffer long-term effects. There are also plenty of steps that can be taken to speed recovery or to prevent an outbreak in the first place.

What is Norwalk Virus?

The Norwalk virus is one strain of a group of small, round-structured viruses known as noroviruses. The viral family contains several different strains that have been named after the geographic areas where the outbreaks occurred. The Norwalk virus began after a 1968 gastroenteritis outbreak at a school in Norwalk, Ohio. According to the Centers for Disease Control, noroviruses are also referred to as caliciviruses because the virus family name is Caliciviridae. Other common names of the illness caused by the Norwalk or Norwalk-like viruses are acute bacterial gastroenteritis, viral gastroenteritis and food poisoning.

Transmission

The Mayo Clinic says the Norwalk virus is usually transmitted by consumption of contaminated food or water but can also be transmitted by direct person-to-person contact. The virus spreads most commonly through families and communities, and particularly in areas where people are in confined spaces such as schools, nursing homes, cruise ships and child care centers.

Symptoms

Symptoms of Norwalk virus include nausea, vomiting, non-bloody diarrhea and abdominal cramps. In some cases, headaches and low-grade fever may be present. Symptoms usually last 24 to 72 hours.

What Foods Cause Norwalk Virus?

Shellfish and salad ingredients are mostly likely to cause Norwalk virus, according to the Ohio State University Extension Service. Water from many different sources including wells, municipal systems, lakes, swimming pools and cruise ship water may also cause outbreaks.

Treatment

There are no specific medications or treatments for Norwalk or Norwalk-like viruses. Proper hydration to replace lost fluids is essential. Sucking on ice chips or sipping small amounts of water or other clear liquids may be helpful. Avoid fatty or processed foods and gradually ease back into eating bland foods such as crackers, gelatin and bananas.

Prevention

Make sure food, especially meats and fish, are cooked thoroughly. When traveling to a foreign country or other area that appears to have polluted water, drink only bottled or carbonated water and avoid raw fruits and vegetables or have foods that have been touched by human hands. Food handlers who have gastrointestinal symptoms should not prepare or touch food, and vomitus and stools should be disposed of in the toilet and surrounding areas thoroughly cleaned.

When to See a Doctor

Dehydration is a common complication of Norwalk virus. Young children, the elderly and individuals with compromised immune systems are particularly susceptible to dehydration. Anyone who is dehydrated or who has not been able to keep liquids down for 24 hours should see a doctor immediately. Bloody diarrhea, vomiting for more than two days, or a fever of 104 degrees Fahrenheit or 40 degrees Celsius are other reasons to seek medical attention.

Related Searches

References

Promoted By Zergnet

Comments

You May Also Like

Related Searches

Check It Out

This Is the Beauty Routine of a Yelp Sales Manager

M
Is DIY in your DNA? Become part of our maker community.
Submit Your Work!