Norovirus Infection

  • Medical Author:
    Charles Patrick Davis, MD, PhD

    Dr. Charles "Pat" Davis, MD, PhD, is a board certified Emergency Medicine doctor who currently practices as a consultant and staff member for hospitals. He has a PhD in Microbiology (UT at Austin), and the MD (Univ. Texas Medical Branch, Galveston). He is a Clinical Professor (retired) in the Division of Emergency Medicine, UT Health Science Center at San Antonio, and has been the Chief of Emergency Medicine at UT Medical Branch and at UTHSCSA with over 250 publications.

  • Medical Editor: Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD
    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.

Learn why outbreaks of norovirus infection (stomach flu) seem to happen so frequently on cruise ships.

Norovirus Infection: A Cause for Travelers' Concern?

Many people may not be familiar with the term norovirus, but it's actually a relatively new term for an old disease. The many strains of noroviruses cause a self-limited gastrointestinal illness that many refer to as the "stomach flu." Outbreaks of norovirus infection have also been documented as coming from restaurants, schools, and nursing homes.

Quick GuideHealthy Living: 10 Health Myths Debunked

Healthy Living: 10 Health Myths Debunked

Norovirus infection facts

  • Norovirus is a small virus that is highly contagious among humans.
  • People acquire the virus by ingesting material contaminated with small amounts of infected feces or fluids. Food and water may be contaminated during processing or handling.
  • Noroviruses are the most common cause of gastroenteritis in the United States.
  • Signs and symptoms of a norovirus infection include
  • The illness usually lasts two to three days and resolves by itself.
  • There is no specific treatment for norovirus, but it is important that infected people stay well hydrated. Fluids containing sugar and electrolytes should be encouraged. Intravenous fluids may be needed if the person cannot maintain an adequate oral intake of fluids.
  • Complications are usually related to the degree of dehydration. Young children and the elderly are at special risk for dehydration.
  • Because the disease is highly contagious, it is important for caretakers to clean their hands whenever they come into contact with the ill person or their environment.
  • The risk of food-borne outbreaks or outbreaks within hospitals or nursing homes may be minimized by following established standards that include hand hygiene; soap and water are advised, as alcohol-based hand cleaners are not very effective against noroviruses. Continue Reading
Reviewed on 10/28/2015
References
REFERENCES:

Glass, R.I., U.D. Parashar, and M.K. Estes. "Norovirus Gastroenteritis." N Engl J Med 361 (2009): 1776-1785.

United States. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Division of Viral Diseases, National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases. "Updated Norovirus Outbreak Management and Disease Prevention Guidelines." MMWR Recomm Rep 60.RR-3 (2011): 1-20.

United States. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "Norovirus." Sept. 30, 2015. <http://www.cdc.gov/norovirus/>.

United States. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "Norovirus: NoroSTAT Data." May 29, 2015. <http://www.cdc.gov/norovirus/reporting/norostat/
data.html>.

IMAGES:

1. Getty Images

2. BigStock

3. iStock

4. Getty Images

5. Getty Images

6. iStock

7. iStock

8. iStock

9. BurtAlert

Subscribe to MedicineNet's Newsletters

Get the latest health and medical information delivered direct to your inbox!

By clicking Submit, I agree to the MedicineNet's Terms & Conditions & Privacy Policy and understand that I may opt out of MedicineNet's subscriptions at any time.

VIEW PATIENT COMMENTS
  • Norovirus Infection - Symptoms

    What were the symptoms associated with a norovirus infection in you or someone you know?

    Post View 63 Comments
  • Norovirus Infection - Treatment

    What was the treatment, including home care, for your norovirus infection?

    Post View 7 Comments

Health Solutions From Our Sponsors