Some Thoughts About Norovirus

Two children in Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala have been infected with Norovirus, which the state health department disclosed on June 5. Same as diarrhoea-causing rotavirus, Kerala warned the people to be cautious as it is very contagious. 

The State Health Department officials suspect the children were infected through food.


A highly contagious virus, it is also called as the ‘stomach flu’ or the ‘winter vomiting bug’. It is similar to diarrhoea-inducing rotavirus. It infects people across all age groups. Disease outbreaks typically occur aboard cruise ships, in nursing homes, dormitories, and other closed spaces.


You can get norovirus from:

  • Having direct contact with an infected person
  • Consuming contaminated food or water
  • Touching contaminated surfaces and then putting your unwashed hands in your mouth

contaminated food

The virus can easily spread through contaminate food and water as it only takes a very small amount of virus particles to make one sick. Food and water can get contaminated with norovirus in many ways, including when:

  • An infected person touches food with their bare hands that have feces (poop) or vomit particles on them
  • Food is placed on a counter or surface that has feces or vomit particles on it
  • Tiny drops of vomit from an infected person spray through the air and land on the food
  • The food is grown or harvested with contaminated water, such as oysters harvested from contaminated water, or fruit and vegetables irrigated with contaminated water in the field

contaminated water

  • At the source such as when a septic tank leaks into a well
  • When an infected person vomits or poops in the water
  • When water isn’t treated properly, such as with not enough chlorine
  • Norovirus spreads through sick people and contaminated surfaces

Contaminated Surfaces

  • An infected person touches the surface with their bare hands that have feces or vomit particles on them
  • An infected person vomits or has diarrhea that splatters onto surfaces
  • Food, water, or objects that are contaminated with norovirus are placed on surfaces
  • Tiny particles of vomit spray through the air and land on surfaces or enter a person’s mouth, then he or she swallows it
  • diarrhea
  • vomiting
  • nausea
  • stomach pain
  • fever
  • headache
  • body aches
  • can causes inflammation of the stomach or intestines.

A person usually develops symptoms 12 to 48 hours after being exposed to norovirus. Most people with norovirus illness get better within 1 to 3 days.


The Virus is resistant to many disinfectants and can withstand heat up to 60°C. So steaming food or chlorinating water does not kill the virus. The virus can also survive many common hand sanitisers.

Some precautions include repeatedly washing hands with soap after using the lavatory or changing diapers. It is important to wash hands carefully before eating or preparing food.

The US Centre for Disease Control and Prevention suggests that those infected should avoid contact with others and avoid preparing food for others while sick and for two days after symptoms stop.

Keep sick infants and children out of areas where food is being handled and prepared.

Wash laundry thoroughly; Immediately remove and wash clothes or linens that may be contaminated with vomit or feces. handle soiled items carefully without agitating (shaking) them. wear rubber or disposable gloves while handling soiled items and wash your hands after, and wash the items with detergent (cleaning agent) and hot water at the maximum available cycle length and then machine dry them at the highest heat setting.


The infection normally lasts only two or three days, and most individuals who are not very young, very old, or malnourished can ride it out with sufficient rest and hydration.

Diagnosis is done by real-time reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction. No vaccines are available for the disease.

It is important to maintain hydration in the acute phase. In extreme cases, patients have to be administered rehydration fluids intravenously

Drink plenty of liquids to replace fluid lost from vomiting and diarrhea. This will help prevent dehydration.


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