Education News: What is Norovirus? Symptoms, Transmission, Precautions You Need to Know

Last Updated: January 24, 2023, 21:27 IST

Education News: What is Norovirus? Symptoms, Transmission, Precautions You Need to Know

(Representational Image: Reuters)

Norovirus is a viral illness that is the most common cause of acute gastroenteritis globally with symptoms including diarrhoea and vomiting

Two cases of norovirus infection, a cause of acute gastroenteritis, were reported in Kerala on Monday. The students of Class 1 and 2 of a school at Kakkanad near Kochi were found infected and three children are now under treatment, the state government informed.

A senior medical officer of the district said 62 students and a few parents of the school exhibited symptoms following which two samples were sent for testing at the State Public Laboratory.

“The health condition of the children is stable. The Health Department personnel inspected the school which is now temporarily closed. We are holding online awareness sessions to the children and parents. The classrooms and the toilets have now been sanitised,” the District Medical Officer said in a statement, PTI reported.

The Health Department said precautionary measures have been taken as the virus spreads through contaminated water and food.

The department said the disease is “highly contagious” and urged the people to maintain hygiene.

Last year, two children were found infected with the same virus at Vizhinjam in Thiruvananthapuram.

WHAT IS NOROVIRUS?

Norovirus is a highly contagious virus that is also sometimes referred to as the ‘stomach flu’ or the ‘winter vomiting bug’. It can be transmitted through contaminated food, water, and surfaces.

As per World Health Organization (WHO), norovirus is a viral illness that is the most common cause of acute gastroenteritis globally with symptoms including diarrhoea and vomiting.

Norovirus illnesses and outbreaks are usually more common in cooler winter months. Although it can affect all age groups, in healthy individuals, the virus will usually not have adverse effects, while for children, elderly and those with other diseases, it can be serious.

An estimated 685 million cases of norovirus are seen annually, including 200 million cases amongst children under five, according to the WHO. Norovirus causes an estimated 200,000 deaths per year, including 50,000 child deaths, primarily impacting low-income countries.

WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF NOROVIRUS?

Norovirus can cause vomiting and/or diarrhoea, headaches and body aches. Patients might also feel nauseous, and suffer from abdominal pain, fever, headaches and body aches.

In extreme cases, loss of fluids occurs and that could lead to dehydration, the Kerala Health Department said.

PRECAUTIONS AND TREATMENT FOR NOROVIRUS

Norovirus is resistant to many disinfectants and can withstand heat up to 60°C. Therefore, merely steaming food or chlorinating water does not kill the virus. The virus can also survive many common hand sanitisers.

It is important to repeatedly wash hands carefully after using the lavatory or changing diapers, and before eating or preparing food. The US Centre for Disease Control and Prevention suggests that those infected should avoid contact with others and avoid preparing food for others.

Norovirus infection can be self-limiting. The infection, even though it takes a lot out of the patient, normally lasts only two or three days, and most individuals who are not very young, very old, or malnourished can get well with sufficient rest and hydration.

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