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.

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What are norovirus infection symptoms and signs in adults, children, and babies?

Most people get sick within one day of ingesting norovirus (range 12-48 hours) so the virus has a short incubation period. Symptoms and signs include vomiting, watery diarrhea, or both. Fever occurs in one-third to one-half of infected people. Cramping abdominal or stomach pain and a general feeling of tiredness, headache, and muscle aches are common.

Infected people are usually thirsty, although they may have trouble keeping fluids down. In general, if patients can orally ingest about the same amount of fluid they lose through diarrhea and vomiting, they will do well. Symptoms in adults may be different than symptoms in children. Young children and babies may not complain of thirst but may appear listless or lethargic as they become dehydrated. Symptoms may be more severe in debilitated, elderly patients or pregnant women. People who are unable to replace their fluids and develop signs of dehydration need medical care.

Most people have a mild illness that lasts two to three days. In contrast to bacterial diarrheas, such as those caused by Shigella or Campylobacter bacteria, norovirus does not cause blood or pus in the stool. The length of infection may be prolonged in patients who are in the hospital or in young children.

Norovirus has been associated with severe inflammation of the colon in newborns and with disease flares in children who have inflammatory bowel disease, but it is not yet clear what role norovirus plays in these conditions. 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>.

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