Stomach Flu Symptoms to Watch for as Norovirus Spreads across US


According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there has been a significant rise in the number of norovirus outbreaks in the United States.

This highly contagious gastrointestinal illness, commonly referred to as the stomach flu, is caused by norovirus infection and results in symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea, and fever, which can lead to serious health complications or even death if not treated properly.

Between August 1, 2022, and January 8, 2023, the CDC recorded 225 norovirus outbreaks, a 30% increase from the same period the previous year.

Annually, norovirus is responsible for approximately 20 million cases of vomiting and diarrhea, 109,000 hospitalizations, and 900 deaths, according to the CDC.

These incidents are most likely to occur between November and April, when people tend to spend more time indoors to avoid cold weather.

Although the number of outbreaks has increased, the CDC has not yet referred to it as a “surge.” According to a spokesperson from the agency, Kate Grusich, the numbers are still “within the expected range for this time of year.”

Symptoms of the stomach flu can include vomiting, nausea, diarrhea, and abdominal cramps, along with fever, headache, and body aches. Healthy adults and children may experience these symptoms, but they can be more dangerous for infants, the elderly, and immunocompromised individuals, who are at a higher risk of dehydration and other complications.

The symptoms usually appear within 12 to 24 hours of exposure and last for a few days, although norovirus is most contagious from the start of symptoms until 48 hours after all symptoms have stopped.

Norovirus spreads quickly and can be easily transmitted from person to person, especially in a setting such as a school, where children may share food, drinks, or toys. The virus can live on surfaces for days or weeks and can survive some disinfectants, making it difficult to eliminate.

There is no cure for norovirus, and treatment involves managing symptoms such as dehydration and nausea through hydration and eating bland foods, along with pain relievers and anti-nausea medicine if necessary.

To prevent the spread of norovirus, it is important to practice frequent handwashing and disinfect the home, office, or classroom regularly. Hand sanitizer may not be effective in preventing the spread of norovirus due to its protective shield, so it is essential to wash hands thoroughly with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after using the bathroom or before putting hands near the mouth.

As norovirus outbreaks continue to increase across the United States, it is crucial to take the necessary precautions to prevent the spread of this highly contagious illness.

According to the CDC, “Hydration is very important to norovirus recovery, as diarrhea and vomiting will deplete the body’s fluids. Water and electrolyte-replenishing drinks such as Pedialyte should be consumed around the clock during infection.” To stay healthy and prevent the spread of norovirus, always remember to wash your hands thoroughly, disinfect surfaces regularly, and seek medical attention if symptoms persist or worsen.

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