The norovirus is a highly contagious virus that affects millions of people in the United States each year. It is mainly caused by a person coming in contact with the pathogens from an infected person's feces whenever they eat or drink something. It can also occur with some types of physical contact or by touching an infected surface and then touching the mouth. Medical experts often refer to this sort of situation as contamination through a fecal-oral route. Viruses that are spread by a fecal-oral route are more common in places where there are poor hygiene practices in place. That is because using simple hand-washing techniques and sanitation methods can easily prevent many cases of the condition from happening. Luckily, the norovirus passes through the body in less than three days usually. But if any complications arise, such as severe dehydration or the exacerbation of other medical conditions, it is possible for a person to die from it. In fact, some medical research has shown that there are at least 200,000 deaths from the condition around the world each year. So it is important that people of all ages and backgrounds understand what the symptoms of the norovirus are and the answers to some of the most common questions that patients ask their doctor about it.
The first sign that a person has been infected with the norovirus is a high fever that begins less than 24 hours after coming in contact with it. Lethargy and weakness are common too as the virus multiplies within the body. Not long after this, there will be cramping in the abdominal region, which is quickly followed by vomiting, diarrhea, and a severe headache.
Q: How is the norovirus treated?
A: Since most cases of the norovirus resolve on their own within three days or so, the best way to treat the condition is to drink plenty of fluids to help the body flush the virus out faster. However, if a person becomes severely dehydrated, they may need to receive intravenous fluids at a hospital.
Q: How is a case of the norovirus diagnosed?
A: Doctors usually go by the symptoms that a person is experiencing to be able to tell that they have this condition. They may also ask them questions about their hygiene practices or the places that they have recently spent time at.
Q: How rapidly does this condition spread?
A: Unfortunately, the norovirus can spread across a region very quickly. In fact, it got its name because of a massive outbreak that it caused in Norwalk, Ohio, several decades ago.
Q: Can the norovirus be spread through sexual contact?
A: Yes. If a person performs oral sex on another person without any protection, they could become infected with the virus.
Q: Is there any way that a person can protect themselves from becoming infected with the norovirus?
A: There is currently no vaccine available to help prevent a person from getting this condition. Researchers are currently working on one though. So it is important that all people practice good hygiene methods, such as washing their hands before they eat or drink anything.