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Norovirus Essay

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Norovirus: Symptoms, Causes and Treatment


When wintertime comes, most people are excited to get out, do some holiday shopping, visit relatives, and enjoy the holidays. However, there is always the risk at this time of year of catching a bug—aka a virus. The most common fear is of catching the flu virus, which is why flu vaccines are advertised around every corner at this time. Yet, there is another virus that people do not consider so much—and, unfortunately, it is related to food—which is especially worrisome, given that Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s all fall during the same season when the norovirus is most likely to strike. In fact, given that these social holidays are all packed tight into the winter season festivities, that is one reason the norovirus is so likely to hit so many at this time.

The norovirus is known as the winter vomiting bug or the stomach flu (though there is no such thing as a flu that lives in the stomach as flu is a respiratory virus). In short, it is a stomach virus. It has many varieties but is typically characterized by vomiting, stomach pain and diarrhea, and usually spreads through unsanitary conditions during food preparation via the fecal-oral route—i.e., people do not wash their hands after using the restroom and then prepare food which ends up being consumed by an unwitting victim. The norovirus can also be spread via contaminated water and even from person-to-person contact or through the air (after vomiting) or by contacting a surface on which the virus is exposed (Brunette).

For that reason, it is very important that food preparers always take precautions to sanitize and clean properly before getting ready for fixing a meal: the health of many people could be at stake, as Blake notes: food safety is just as important as creating a healthy food diet. Therefore, during the holidays especially, people should be more mindful of how their food is prepared and whether proper hygiene was used in the process. If not, one could risk being infected by the norovirus.

It commonly leads to gastroenteritis, and signs of infection usually occur within a day or two of exposure to the virus. The virus can usually be defeated by the body’s defense system in a couple days, though an individual must be careful not to become dehydrated in the meantime and should try to drink fluids if able (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention). This paper will describe the symptoms, cause and treatment for norovirus, and what precautions can be taken to prevent spreading it.


The most common way in which a norovirus manifests itself is through a sudden change in one’s state. One can go from feeling fine to being doubled over quite quickly. For children, the symptoms usually include nausea or upset stomach. For adults, the symptoms usually include diarrhea and watery stool. People may also feel dizzy or light-hearted from the attack on the system.

These symptoms are not very dangerous in and of themselves; however, because so much fluid can be lost through diarrhea or vomiting, the individual who has contracted a norovirus may need to replenish fluids in the body by drinking water or something with electrolytes to maintain a proper balance of nutrients and minerals in the body. This may be difficult for some, especially on an upset stomach; so in cases where the child or adult is struggling to keep anything down, ice chips may be the best remedy for keeping the body from becoming too dehydrated. A carbonated beverage such as a Coke of 7-Up is often preferred by some patients suffering from an upset stomach related to contracting the norovirus.

Symptoms tend to disappear after a day or two because this is not a very long-lasting virus and the…

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…it is a virus that can live on food and be spread through food. Hygiene is very important, especially for cooks and waiters. Keeping hands washed prevents the virus from spreading from person to person and place to place. Sanitary protocols should also be followed in restaurants and in day care centers—anywhere where a lot of people come together and tend to be packed in close quarters. The norovirus is particularly bothersome during the winter holiday season because so much activity among people takes place at this time of the year: people are busy seeing one another; they are out more in restaurants and doing shopping, handling items and touching things and sharing instruments; they are doing more food preparing, and so on—so the risk of passing on the norovirus is elevated at this time of the year, which is why it is sometimes called the winter bug.

There is no way to treat the norovirus with a vaccine, so one must simply monitor for dehydration and try to get rest. One must be careful to always be healthy so that the immune system can stay strong when it is attacked. When one has a weakened immune system, the body can be negatively impacted by other factors that stem from infection. Infection weakens the body’s system as it goes into protection mode—but if the body’s immune system is already in a weakened state, it will not have enough resources to combat other issues that arise and could lead to worse issues. This is why Blake explains it is important to lead a healthy lifestyle by eating good foods that are right for you. The better one’s diet overall, the more healthy one is going to be and the better prepared one will be to face the norovirus if and when it is caught. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, as the saying goes, so the best medicine for…

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Works Cited

Blake, Joan Salge. Nutrition & You. Pearson, 2016.

Brunette, Gary W. CDC Yellow Book 2018: Health Information for International Travel. Oxford University Press, 2017.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “The Symptoms of Norovirus.” CDC, 2018.

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