Norovirus gives one more reason to wash hands
Cases on the rise across u.s., experts say
If it isn’t already a ritualistic habit for you, here’s another reminder to wash those hands, readers.
We’ve been on guard for the flu, RSV, and COVID, but handwashing helps avert a host of other illnesses too, including norovirus, which experts say is currently on the rise across the country.
Norovirus can be a nasty little virus. Symptoms can include diarrhea, vomiting, nausea and stomach pain, as well as fever, headache and body aches.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, it’s spread through direct contact with an infected person, consuming contaminated food or water, or touching contaminated surfaces and putting your unwashed hands in your mouth.
As gross as that sounds, the recovery is usually pretty quick – one to three days, the CDC notes.
However, it’s a particularly tough virus to eradicate, because it can live on surfaces for weeks. The Wall Street Journal cites studies that found the virus was still detectable on surfaces three to four weeks later, while other studies found that it survived in water at room temperature for two months.
And when one gets norovirus, it can be a bit on the violent side, causing people to throw up or have diarrhea multiple times a day, the CDC says, which can lead to dehydration and general misery.
The CDC notes that annually, norovirus causes 19 to 21 million cases of vomiting and diarrhea, 109,000 hospitalizations and 900 deaths.
We’re all about avoiding all illnesses, because no one wants to be sick. But this one is especially on the “stay away” list.
So what should one do to avoid infection?
The first line of defense is the most basic – wash your hands for at least 20 seconds several times a day, and avoid touching your mouth, the CDC reports.
And if your house should get hit, use a bleach-based cleaner and rubber gloves to disinfect surfaces in your home. Wash any soiled clothing or bedding immediately, and tumble dry them. And while you are caring for infected people, wear gloves.
Because this virus is particularly unpleasant, it’s worth being vigilant against it.