Norovirus, aka the “stomach flu,” is on the rise within the U.S. New data from the Facilities for Illness Management and Prevention discovered that greater than 12% of tests for norovirus got here again optimistic the week of Feb. 17 — up from from 11.5% the week earlier than. Consultants say that is a priority provided that norovirus is very contagious. In keeping with the CDC, it causes greater than 19 million diseases, largely in younger youngsters, yearly within the nation, and results in 465,000 emergency division visits. Decreasing your danger for getting norovirus is essential, particularly if you’re in one of many weak populations for this sickness.

How are you going to stop norovirus and what do you have to do for those who get it? Right here’s what specialists need you to know.

What’s norovirus? How is it totally different from the flu?

Dr. Nipunie Rajapakse, a pediatric infectious illnesses doctor with the Mayo Clinic Children’s Center, tells Yahoo Life that norovirus is unrelated to influenza, regardless of its nickname. As an alternative, norovirus is “a sort of virus that causes gastroenteritis or ‘abdomen flu.’”

“Norovirus is also referred to as the cruise ship virus due to its frequent outbreaks on cruise ships and navy bases — and it is circulating in all places,” Dr. Craig Wilen, affiliate professor in laboratory drugs and immunobiology on the Yale Faculty of Drugs, tells Yahoo Life. “We’ve got no medication or vaccines for it, so it is a main public well being burden.”

In contrast to the flu, which regularly consists of respiratory signs like a cough, gastroenteritis assaults your intestines, says Rajapakse, inflicting irritation. This causes signs equivalent to:

Nausea and vomiting are the 2 large indicators that you’ve got norovirus, and these signs sometimes final one to 2 days. One of many dangers of those signs is dehydration, which is a priority if an individual just isn’t hydrating correctly or retaining fluids down. That is significantly harmful for younger youngsters, the aged and people who are immunosuppressed, Wilen says.

In case you have norovirus, there’s sometimes no motive to see a health care provider until you end up suffering from dehydration, indicators of which embrace going to the lavatory much less typically, dry mouth and dizziness in adults, in accordance with the CDC. “Fluids and electrolytes is what you want, in addition to making an attempt your finest to not unfold the sickness to family contacts, which is tougher than one may suppose,” Wilen says. Over-the-counter antidiarrheal medicines also can assist.

“We don’t have many instruments within the toolbox to keep away from unfold, sadly,” says Wilen, “however the excellent news is that the majority circumstances will clear up in a couple of days.”

How are you going to keep away from getting norovirus?

Norovirus is “largely unfold via the fecal-oral route,” Wilen explains. “Virus that’s both within the stool or within the vomit will both get on somebody’s palms or a meals product, after which get into the mouth or gastrointestinal tract of the recipient.”

Retaining your palms clear is vital. Whereas spraying your palms with sanitizer could also be a go-to transfer because the pandemic began, it’s not going to do much in relation to avoiding the norovirus, says Wilen. That’s as a result of “the virus is comparatively immune to ethanol-based cleaners, like hand sanitizer,” he says. As an alternative, washing your palms with cleaning soap and heat water, significantly after utilizing the lavatory or earlier than getting ready meals, is your finest transfer for avoiding transferring the virus out of your palms. You must also be sure that to keep away from sharing any meals with somebody who could also be contaminated.

With a purpose to kill the virus on surfaces within the house, Wilen suggests utilizing bleach-based cleansing merchandise. Or you can also make your personal utilizing a combination of 5-25 tablespoons of family bleach to 1 gallon water, per the Mayo Clinic.

Additionally in accordance with the Mayo Clinic, you possibly can observe these tricks to keep away from spreading or catching norovirus:

  • Wash palms with cleaning soap and water for no less than 20 seconds.

  • Clear fruit and veggies earlier than consuming.

  • Cook dinner meals completely. (Foodsafety.gov gives an inside meals temperature chart for cooking.)

  • In case you’re sick, keep house and keep away from others.

  • Keep away from getting ready meals for others if you’re sick with vomiting/diarrhea.

  • Disinfect surfaces and counters which may be contaminated.

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