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Texas Children’s West Campus FAQ’s on Norovirus

Katy, TX (March 10, 2017) – Has the “stomach bug” hit your household? It might be the highly contagious Norovirus. Read on for some information and tips from Texas Children’s Hospital West Campus.

What is norovirus?

Norovirus is a highly contagious virus that causes acute gastroenteritis. Following introduction of rotavirus vaccination, norovirus has become the most common cause of gastroenteritis in adults and children. Viral gastroenteritis is an infection that can cause diarrhea and vomiting. It happens when a person’s stomach and intestines get infected with a virus. Both adults and children can get viral gastroenteritis. The Center for Disease Control estimates norovirus to be responsible for 19-21 million illnesses, including 50,000 to 70,000 hospitalizations as well as 570 to 800 child deaths every year in the U.S. alone. Anyone can get infected with norovirus and become sick.

How do kids contract it?

Your child can become infected with norovirus by accidentally getting vomit or stool from infected people in their mouth. While that may sound weird, this usually happens by: consuming contaminated food or drink, touching contaminated surfaces or objects then putting fingers in the mouth or having contact with someone infected with norovirus. Typically, norovirus outbreaks happen when infected people spread the virus to others. Outbreaks can occur in numerous institutional settings including schools, child care centers and colleges because it lives on surfaces and is resistant to many common disinfectants.

Someone with norovirus is most contagious when they are sick and the first few days after they recover.

What are the symptoms of norovirus?

The most common symptoms of norovirus include; diarrhea, throwing up, nausea and stomach pain. Other symptoms can include; fever, headache and body aches.

These symptoms usually appear within 12 to 48 hours of being exposed to norovirus. For most people, norovirus illness is not serious and they get better in one to three days. A person may become extremely ill and throw up or experience diarrhea multiple times a day which can lead to dehydration. Symptoms of dehydration include; decreased urination, dry mouth and throat, and feeling dizzy when standing up. Young children who are dehydrated may cry with fewer tears and usually are sleepy and fussy.

How do you treat norovirus?

Unfortunately, there is no specific medicine to treat people infected with the norovirus illness. Norovirus cannot be treated with antibiotics because it is a viral – not bacterial – infection. If your child has the norovirus illness have them drink plenty of liquids to replace fluid lost from throwing up and diarrhea to help prevent dehydration.

What’s the best way to prevent Norovirus?

These tips will help protect you and your child from norovirus.

  • Always wash your hands with soap and water before eating, preparing or handling food and especially after changing diapers or using the restroom.
  • Wash fruits and vegetables and cook seafood thoroughly before preparing or consuming them.
  • Do not prepare foods or care for others when you are sick and for at least two days after symptoms stop.
  • Immediately remove and wash clothes or linens that may be contaminated with vomit or stool. You should handle soiled items carefully by wearing gloves and washing your hands after.
  • Clean and disinfect any surfaces thought to be contaminated.
    • The CDC recommends using a chlorine bleach solutions with a concentration of 1000-5000 ppm; about 5 to 25 tablespoons of household bleach per gallon of water.
Courtesy of Texas Children’s Hospital West Campus and Dr. Stan Spinner
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