Basic tips for zapping noroviruses

January 2, 2013

Noroviruses can live in the vomit or faeces of infected people, but can also lurk in insufficiently heated bivalve shellfish and other foods.

A cotton swab of infected stool is thought to contain more than 100 million viruses, and only 10, if they are strong enough, are necessary to cause an infection. Noroviruses are acid-resistant, and can survive in the stomach’s highly acidic environment.

Some infected patients will experience severe vomiting and diarrhoea more than 10 times per day, though most do not develop fevers and symptoms disappear naturally in one or two days. Although the condition rarely becomes serious, elderly people need to be careful, as deaths have occurred due to asphyxiation on vomit or pneumonia from bacteria entering the lungs.

Group infections can occur in medical or care facilities through contact with diarrhoea or vomit that gets onto the floor. Without proper sanitation, the virus can attach itself to dust and enter the body through the airways.

Basic prevention involves washing the hands with soap and running water after using the toilet or before eating.

When cleaning up vomit or faeces, use a chlorine sanitizer, as alcohol disinfectants are not effective. Towels and other materials used for cleaning should be placed in sealable plastic bags and discarded. Clothes should be washed in water first and then disinfected with chlorine bleach.

Viruses on cooking utensils and food can be killed if they are exposed to water that is at least 85 C for more than one minute.

Infants and elderly people can easily become dehydrated due to diarrhoea, and should be constantly administered small amounts of beverages made with salt and sugar, such as sports drinks, to aid absorption.

If a person cannot take liquids orally or has not urinated in six to eight hours, dehydration is likely and the person probably requires medical treatment.

Antidiarrhea medication can sometimes delay recovery by preventing the body from discharging the virus. Even after the symptoms disappear, care is needed because the virus will remain in faeces for about one week.

Source: The Yomiuri Shimbun/Asia News Network

Category: Wellness and Complementary Therapies

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