The Kerala Health Department recently confirmed two cases of the gastrointestinal infection norovirus.
What is norovirus and how common are infections?
- Norovirus is not new; it has been circulating among humans for over 50 years and is thought to be one of the primary causes of gastroenteritis.
- The virus is estimated to kill 200,000 persons globally every year, with most deaths occurring among those below the age of five years and those over the age of 65 years.
- The virus is capable of surviving low temperatures, and outbreaks tend to be more common during the winter and in colder countries that is why it is sometimes referred to as “winter vomiting disease”.
- Norovirus infections are more frequently detected in high income countries, with almost 40% cases being seen in long-term care facilities.
What are the symptoms and how to prevent its spread?
- Diarrhoea, vomiting, nausea, and abdominal pain. Being a diarrhoeal disease, it can lead to dehydration, so drinking plenty of fluids is recommended.
- The infection can be transmitted through foods contaminated with the virus, touching surfaces that are contaminated with the virus and then touching the mouth, and being in direct contact with someone with the infection like taking care of them and sharing foods and utensils with them.
- Good hand hygiene is the best way to prevent infection.
- Wash your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds. Hands sanitisers are thought to not work too well against norovirus.
- The norovirus can survive temperatures as high as 60 degrees Celsius.
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