Norovirus GI & GII, or Norwalk virus, is the most common cause of non-bacterial gastroenteritis in the world. It is widely known for causing the stomach flu on cruise ships. Three genotypes of this diverse virus, GI, GII, and GIV, can infect humans. Genotype group II, genotype 4 (GII.4) is the most common and accounts for the majority of outbreaks around the world. Norovirus, which can have a sudden or gradual onset, typically develops 24-48 hours after contact with an infected person or ingestion of contaminated food or water.
Norovirus, which can have a sudden or gradual onset, typically develops 24-48 hours after contact with an infected person or ingestion of contaminated food or water.
Norovirus is generally short-lived, lasting about 24-72 hours but it is highly contagious due to its stability in the environment and resistance to heat, cold, and disinfectant solutions. It can survive on hard surfaces for weeks and up to 12 days on contaminated fabrics. Infection affects the microvilli of the small intestine, not the colon. Those infected can spread the virus for up to two weeks after recovery. Noroviruses are the most common cause of sporadic diarrhea in community settings and cause up to half of all outbreaks of gastroenteritis.
What are symptoms?
Symptoms can include the following:
- nausea and vomiting,
- abdominal cramps,
- lowgrade fever,
- muscle aches,
- and headache.
Treatments for norovirus include hydration and electrolytes primarily, and in some cases antiemetic drugs for nausea and vomiting, and analgesics for pain and headache. Intravenous fluid and electrolytes may be needed in extreme cases. PCR is a highly sensitive and specific method for detection of norovirus.
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