Medical experts warn of rise in norovirus — an easily spread stomach bug

Medical experts warn of rise in norovirus -- an easily spread stomach bug

Norovirus, a highly contagious stomach bug, is seeing a surge in cases nationwide, posing a significant health concern. Dr. Amesh Adalja, a Senior Scholar at Johns Hopkins, underscores the prevalence of norovirus infections throughout one’s lifetime, highlighting symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea, often colloquially referred to as the stomach flu.

The virus spreads easily through various means, including direct contact with an infected individual, contaminated food or water, and contaminated surfaces. Dr. Adalja notes that environments with close contact among individuals, such as schools, daycare centers, cruise ships, and conventions, are breeding grounds for norovirus outbreaks, emphasizing the need for vigilance in such settings.

Despite the widespread impact of norovirus, there is currently no vaccine available to prevent its transmission. Consequently, health professionals stress the importance of frequent handwashing with soap and water as a primary preventive measure. Dr. Adalja emphasizes the necessity of thorough hand hygiene, particularly after handshakes and before handling or consuming food, along with the avoidance of contact with individuals displaying symptoms of norovirus.

The typical duration of norovirus illness ranges from two to three days; however, certain demographic groups, including young children, older adults, and individuals with compromised immune systems, are at heightened risk of severe complications from the infection. As such, proactive measures to minimize exposure and promote hygiene remain crucial in mitigating the spread of norovirus and safeguarding vulnerable populations.