Norovirus 411

Wash your hands, wash your hands, OMG wash your hands.

Back in December the Virginia Department of Health sent out a heads up that norovirus is making the rounds in the ol’ Commonwealth. Since today’s the day most Richmond-area kids are headed back to school (you know, where we keep all of the germs), we wanted to give you a little information on this godforsaken virus1 and how to keep yourself from getting it…or sharing it with others if you do.

For the uninitiated, norovirus, commonly referred to as the “stomach flu,” is a gastrointestinal virus that causes vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal cramping. It is highly contagious with most cases occurring during the winter months. As it’s a virus, you pretty much have to let it do its thing until it goes away. However, according to the VDH, “Replacing lost fluids is key to preventing dehydration, especially in children and the elderly. Persons who become severely dehydrated should seek medical care.”

Not only is the norovirus super contagious, it can also survive surfaces for prolonged periods of times.Basically it’s a giant-jerk-germ-sumabitch. So let’s all do what we can to keep it from spreading.

Here’s what the VDH suggests we do:

  • Wash hands often with warm water and soap.2
  • Disinfect contaminated surfaces with bleach-based household cleaners.
  • Wash soiled clothing and linens with hot water and detergent.
  • Do not prepare food for others if you have the virus.

For more information on norovirus, take a look at the VDH’s handy-dandy Norovirus Fact Sheet and visit the norovirus section of the Center for Disease Control’s website.

(Now go wash your hands.)

Photo by: lorenkerns

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  1. I speak from experience. I’ve had this virus twice in my life, and both times put me out of commission for a week. During my first bout I had to get IV fluids and a shot of anti-nausea medication in mah backside. 
  2. A good rule is to wash them for as long as it takes you to sing “Happy Birthday” or your ABCs. 
  3. The all caps were from me, not the VDH, but I think they’d echo my sentiments. 
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Valerie Catrow

Valerie Catrow is editor of RVAFamily, mother to a mop-topped first grader, and always really excited to go to bed.

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