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We’ve all been there – you’re enjoying your day, feeling good when suddenly your stomach turns and you’re looking for the nearest bathroom where you’ll be spending the next few hours. What happened? Was it something you ate?
Norovirus is the most likely culprit, and it can happen to anyone. Luckily, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has shared tips on the best ways to avoid it, especially during spring break so you don’t ruin what’s supposed to be a good time.
We’re here to tell you what norovirus is and the expert steps you can take to avoid it on your spring break travels to give you peace of mind and peace of mind.
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What is a norovirus?
Norovirus, more commonly known as “the stomach bug”, is a common virus that is the leading cause of foodborne illness. There are 19 to 21 million cases of sick people per year in the United States, with 109,000 hospitalizations and 900 deaths per year. It differs from the flu (influenza) because the influenza virus causes respiratory disease while the norovirus presents an infection mainly in the stomach and intestines.
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How do you catch norovirus?
Norovirus is spread by being in close contact with someone who has the virus. Sharing utensils, sharing food, caring for an infected person, or eating food handled by someone are all possible ways the virus can spread. Also, norovirus can be spread by touching virus-infected fecal or vomit particles and then touching your nose or mouth.
The most common symptoms of norovirus are vomiting, diarrhea, nausea, and stomach pain. Rarer symptoms include fever, headache, and body aches. Symptoms of norovirus usually appear 12 to 24 hours after a person has been exposed to it. Studies indicate that the virus can spread for up to two weeks after a person apparently recovers from it.
Can norovirus be treated?
There is currently no vaccine or specific treatment for norovirus, only ways to treat the symptoms. There are ways to mitigate the spread, however, as noted by the CDC. Talk to your doctor about the best ways to treat your symptoms.
CDC tips to protect you and your family
wash your hands
The CDC notes that washing your hands frequently and thoroughly is key to curbing the spread of norovirus. Proper hand washing involves lathering them with soap for 20 seconds (about the time it takes to sing Happy Birthday) and rinsing them with warm water. The CDC notes that hand sanitizer is not effective at killing norovirus, so it cannot be used as a substitute for hand washing, although it can be used in conjunction to curb the spread of other germs.
The CDC states that washing your hands is especially important after the following events:
- Change diapers
- Touching common surfaces
- shake hands
- Caring for sick people
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The CDC recommends using disposable gloves whenever you clean up after someone with norovirus. This way, you decrease the risk of accidentally infecting yourself. The best disposable gloves we’ve tested are the Venom Steel Nitrile Gloves because they’re durable, textured, and latex-free.
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Thoroughly clean the dishes
Don’t leave leftovers on your dishes from a sick person and be careful when handling contaminated dishes. To ensure your dishes are clean after being used by someone infected with norovirus, use a quality dish detergent like our favorite dish soap, Dawn Ultra. We love it because it’s great for cleaning tough stains and has a pleasant fruity scent.
If you are cleaning surfaces near places where a person with norovirus has been present or which have been contaminated with feces or vomit, it is important to do so carefully with bleach or another approved cleaner. You can use premixed bleach or mix your own using 3/4 cup of bleach with a gallon of water. If the mess continues on the floor, use our favorite traditional mop, the O-Cedar EasyWring Mop and Bucket System, which is washable and easy to maneuver.
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Thoroughly wash fruits and vegetables
Another way to make sure norovirus doesn’t spread is to properly prepare the food you eat. This includes rinsing your products well. A colander will help you do this effectively. Our favorite is the OXO Good Grips 5 Quart Stainless Steel Colander. It stays put, is easy to hold, and best of all, it has good drainage.
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Clean contaminated laundry
The linen of a person infected with norovirus should also be cleaned, especially if said linen contains vomit or feces. Our favorite detergent to get the job done is Persil ProClean which performs the best stain removal of all the detergents we tested.
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Dispose of garbage immediately
You should also change the trash frequently if its contents may contain the virus, as this reduces the risk of spreading it. The best trash bags are Glad ForceFlexPlus Tall Kitchen Drawstring Bags for their durability, flexibility, and ability to mask trash odor.
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While nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea are never pleasant, there are ways to make recovery a little less excruciating if you or a loved one catches norovirus. It is important to stay hydrated because an important part of the norovirus infection is that you lose fluids quickly. Dehydration can be dangerous and will only make your health worse. Symptoms of dehydration include vomiting, diarrhea, nausea and stomach pain – exactly the same symptoms of norovirus. We recommend using our favorite water bottle, the Brita BB11 Premium Filter Water Bottle, which filters odors, can be opened with one hand and keeps water fresh for up to 24 hours.
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