Norwalk Virus Facts

Norwalk Virus Facts
The Norwalk virus is a virus that usually affects people during the winter months, resulting in gastrointestinal illness. It was isolated and given its name in the 1970s, after a 1968 outbreak in Norwalk, Ohio occurred at an elementary school. It is believed that the Norwalk virus, or Norovirus, is responsible for approximately 18% of all acute illnesses of gastroenteritis around the world. It is common on cruise ships, when an outbreak can affect up to 25% of those on board. Hand washing can help to eliminate transmission of Norovirus. In the United States, roughly 300 people die from infection each year, but most are either elderly or very young, or already have a weakened immune system due to other illnesses.
Interesting Norwalk Virus Facts:
Most norovirus outbreaks are transmitted directly from one person to another.
Indirect norovirus transmission often occurs through contaminated food or water.
In industrialized countries there are estimated to be approximately 906,000 visits by outpatients due to the Norwalk virus.
There are approximately 64,000 hospitalizations each year in industrialized countries due to the Norwalk virus.
There are approximately 1.1 million hospitalizations in developing countries each year due to the Norwalk virus. Of these hospitalizations, roughly 218,000 patients infected with the Norwalk virus die.
Once infected with the Norwalk virus a person may experience nausea and vomiting, diarrhea, pain in the abdomen, and in some cases they lose their ability to taste.
Other symptoms of Norwalk virus infection can include weakness, muscle pains and aches, headaches, low fever, and becoming lethargic.
Symptoms of gastroenteritis usually occur within 48 hours of being exposed to the Norwalk virus but in some cases it only takes 12 hours.
Once infected with one strain of the Norwalk virus a person is usually immune for approximately four years from the same strain. This does not offer protection against other strains.
Norwalk virus outbreaks commonly occur where people live or work in close quarters such as in overnight camps, prisons, hospitals, seniors' homes, dorms, cruise ships, schools, and clubs.
The Norwalk virus is also well-known as the stomach flu by most people.
There is no treatment to cure a Norwalk virus infection because it is a virus and not bacteria.
Antibiotics will not cure a Norwalk virus infection.
It is easy for the Norwalk virus to spread. It only takes touching something that an infected person has touched and then touching your mouth or eyes or nose.
When the Norwalk virus is affecting a population frequent hand washing can help to avoid contracting the virus.
Once infected with the Norwalk virus, symptoms will begin within 48 hours and last for usually only a few days a most.
For those infected with the Norwalk virus it is important to drink a lot of fluids to avoid becoming dehydrated.
In most cases a Norwalk virus infection will not be a serious or life-threatening event, but in those who are already ill or are elderly or are very young children, they are more likely to require medical care or hospitalization.

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