Norovirus is also known as the winter vomiting bug. It is the commonest cause of gastroenteritis, which is the inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract and includes symptoms such as diarrhea, vomiting, abdominal pain, fever, and dehydration. The virus is usually transmitted via the fecal-oral route, when pathogens in fecal particles from one individual are passed on to the mouth of another individual. Transmission can occur through the consumption of contaminated food or water, contact with an infected person, or contact with contaminated surfaces. Norovirus can also be transmitted through the air. One major risk factor is poor hygiene during food preparation.
There are approximately 685 million cases of norovirus with 200,000 deaths every year. It is a common disease found in both developing and developed countries. Young children under five years of age are most frequently affected. The disease is also more prevalent during winter.
The diagnosis of norovirus infections is based on the symptoms. For public health purposes, confirmatory testing may be performed. Some preventative steps that can be taken are handwashing, disinfecting contaminated surfaces, and promoting the use of alcohol-based hand sanitizers. There is no vaccine or specific treatment for norovirus infection. Treatment and management of the disease include supportive care, such as oral rehydration solutions, intravenous fluids, and medications to negate the symptoms.
Symptom #1: Nausea and Vomiting
Nausea is a sensation of unease and discomfort that often includes an urge to vomit. Nausea can precede vomiting, but vomiting does not always occur. Vomiting is the forceful expulsion of stomach contents through the mouth and, in some cases, the nose. It is also known as emesis, barfing, puking, or throwing up.
Both nausea and vomiting are nonspecific symptoms that can occur in many illnesses, such as food poisoning and viral infections. They are usually accompanied by other symptoms, such as fever, loss of appetite, and weight loss.