NOROVIRUS, THE FEARSOME BUG GOING VIRAL

ALL YOU NEED TO KNOW

You may not have heard of this virus, but you most probably got it at some point in the winter… Meet Norovirus, aka “stomach flu”, or “winter vomiting bug”. Yes, because it’s everywhere. Everywhere! Millions of people worldwide are reported to be struck by the notorious stomach bug, just like in a Hollywood horror story. And no, Lebanon is definitely not immune, and cases appear everyday.

WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS ?

Symptoms generally begin within a day or two of exposure. The effects include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and stomach pain and cramps. In some cases, victims can experience either fever or chills, and even headaches, fatigue and weight loss. If those symptoms can be severe, they are usually short-lived, and most people recover in two days. Infants or elderly may require hospitalization.

WHO IS AT RISK ?

Basically, everyone. Norovirus is incredibly contagious and can be easily passed on through contact with an infected person, or contact with contaminated surfaces or objects, even like clothing. The virus is also aerosolized, which means it can spray into the air when someone flushes a toilet, for example, making it catchable when a person inhales the particles. However, it has been reported that not everyone is equally vulnerable to the virus, and whether you get sick or not may depend on your blood type, which is fascinating. It is said that the number of Norovirus particles that fit on a pinhead are enough to infect over 1,000 people !

WHAT TO DO ?

If there’s no specific treatment for Norovirus infection, as most cases resolve on their own, there are things you can do to help the recovery. The main thing is to replace the fluids lost, so sports and rehydration drinks can help. Drinks lots of fluids, with a bit of sugar, as the most significant complication is dehydration. And stay home and rest. When you feel you can start eating again, go for soups with crackers, rice, pasta, potatoes, yogurt, boiled veggies or even Jell-O.

PREVENTION

Hygiene is the key, here!

  • Wash your hands thoroughly and frequently, after using the toilet, before preparing food, after a handshake. Washing your hands effectively means using soap and running water for at least 20 seconds.
  • If you have been contaminated, do not prepare food for others.
  • Generally speaking, do not share food or drinks, or utensils.
  • Note that a lot of times, hand gels do not prevent contamination, but they can reduce the risks of being contaminated.
  • If your house has been exposed, wash bathrooms, door knobs and surfaces with a solution of water and bleach.
  • Also know that if you were infected, you can stay contagious up to 2 weeks after the symptoms have disappeared…
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