27th January, 2023 Science and Technology
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- The Kerala Health Department confirmed two cases of gastrointestinal infection norovirus in class 1 students in Ernakulam district.
What is norovirus?
- Norovirus is a highly contagious virus that is also sometimes referred to as the ‘stomach flu’ or the ‘ winter vomiting bug’.
- It causes diarrhea and vomiting. As per the World Health Organisation, norovirus is a viral illness that is the most common cause of acute gastroenteritis globally.
- The disease is transmitted by direct contact with an infected person, contaminated food or touching a contaminated surface, and putting unwashed hands in the mouth. The infection is caused and spread through contaminated food and water.
Symptoms of Norovirus:
- The most common symptoms that a person infected with Norovirus has been:
- Stomach pain
- Body pain
- The norovirus infection generally lasts for one to two days . However, it can cause dehydration in very young and old people, and in some patients, bodies will remain weak for one more week after contracting the infection.
Prevention from Norovirus:
- Washing hands frequently and thoroughly with soap and water particularly after using the toilet and before preparing or handling food.
- Disinfecting any surfaces or objects that could be contaminated.
- Proper flushing in the toilet and cleaning of the surrounding area.
- Avoiding eating raw, unwashed food.
- One may get infected multiple times as the virus has different strains. Norovirus is resistant to many disinfectants and can withstand heat up to 60°C. Therefore, merely steaming food or chlorinating water does not kill the virus. The virus can also survive many common hand sanitisers.
- During outbreaks, surfaces must be disinfected with a solution of hypochlorite at 5,000 parts per million.
- Those infected should avoid contact with others and avoid preparing food for others while sick and for two days after symptoms stop.
Diagnosis and Treatment:
- Diagnosis is done by real-time reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction.
- No vaccines are available for the disease.
- As of now, there is no specific medication to treat people infected with norovirus.
- Drinking plenty of liquids is important as one must ensure to replace the lost fluid from vomiting and diarrhoea.
- It helps to prevent dehydration, otherwise, patients have to be administered rehydration fluids intravenously.
- The disease is self-limiting. The infection, even though it takes a lot out of the patient, normally lasts only two or three days, and most individuals who are not very young, very old, or malnourished can ride it out with sufficient rest and hydration.