Case of “tripledemic” Many parts of the U.S. seem to have steady or decreasing rates for viruses like RSV, flu and COVID. But rates of another miserable—and potentially dangerous—virus are on the rise.
RSV and flu are two of the most common respiratory viruses. “early and brisk” Starts this winter season Dr. William SchaffnerDr. Judith Sullivan, professor of infectious disease at Vanderbilt University Medical Center Nashville (Tenn.), tells The Sunday Review. “Now we’re having other winter viruses—including norovirus, a dominantly intestinal virus—also spreading this season.”
Case of norovirus Are on the rise in many areas across America and around the world. CanadaThe pathogen has been making headlines. It recently sickened nearly 500 Two cruise ships based in the United States. And it’s once again responsible for myriad school closingsOne Detroit-area primary detailing. “rolling incidence of students throwing up” last week, causing the cancelation of classes from through Valentine’s Day.
This year’s norovirus season is particularly robust so far, experts tell The Sunday Review. Here’s what you need to know to avoid the common wintertime menace known for sickening whole families—and schools, conferences, and cruise ships—at once.
How does norovirus spread and what is it?
Norovirus, often mistaken for the stomach flu, “spreads with remarkable ease,” Schaffner tells The Sunday Review. The nicknames for it include “winter vomiting disease” “the cruise ship virus,” He says that the virus spreads quickly among close-knit people.
The disease usually spreads from one person to another via the internet. “fecal-oral” transmission. You can catch it by consuming contaminated food or water, and it’s the leading cause of foodborne illness The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that it has been reported in the U.S. It can be transmitted by touching any contaminated surface, such as a light switch or doorknob.
It takes a very small amount of virus to get sick—so miniscule a microscope can’t always detect it, Dr. Ali AlhassaniSummer Health’s head of pediatrics and an internist at the hospital. Boston’s Children’s HospitalGet the story. The Sunday Review.
Because the virus is primarily passed through particles of feces invisible to the naked eye, it’s easy to unknowingly spread and contract the disease—if, for example, you don’t wash your hands well after using the restroom or changing a baby’s diaper. “It doesn’t take a lot to get people pretty sick,” Dr. Georges BenjaminExecutive Director of American Public Health Association. The Sunday Review. “That’s the main reason it’s so infectious.”
What’s more, if you’re near someone who is projectile vomiting, “you can actually be infected via aerosols,” Schaffner adds.
How do you know if norovirus is present?
“In general, norovirus is very violent and inconvenient,” Dr. Luis OstroskyDr. Xavier, an infectious disease specialist at University of Texas Health Houston tells us The Sunday Review.
According to the CDCCommon symptoms are:
- Stomach pain
- Aches in the body
The symptoms usually appear within one to three hours after exposure and can last from 12 to 48 to 48 hours. Norovirus can also cause diarrhea and vomiting. “the biggest risk is getting very dehydrated,” Benjamin advises—especially among the young, elderly, and those with other medical conditions.
What is the reason for norovirus being circulating at this time?
Norovirus is a common winter virus, though it’s also known to circulate via gatherings at other times of the year, like at spring or summer weddings or cruises.
From November to March, the virus is most active. Dr. Ali Alhassani, a pediatrician at Boston’s Children’s HospitalTells The Sunday Review.
“We are starting to see a little bit higher activity than usual, and a little bit on the early side, too,” Alhassani adds that the virus has been on the rise and is likely to peak in the U.S.
Alhassani, the Head of Clinical at Summer Health is a subscription-based service that provides pediatrics via text messages in all 50 US states. This service saw a 13% rise in visits. “stomach bug” He notes that symptoms have been present since December.
A recent U.S. norovirus outbreak could explain the current increase in cases linked to raw oysters, Ostrosky says. Although oysters affected by the disease were not recalled nationwide, Ostrosky says that it could still be driving some cases.
We’ll all be experiencing infectious diseases more frequently, now that pandemic restrictions have been universally lifted, experts caution—at least for the near future. “Remember, we’re basically going from almost no cases of anything [during COVID lockdowns] to a bunch of cases of something,” Benjamin offers advice, whether it’s RSV, flu, or norovirus, earlier in the winter.
“We’re out and about sharing germs with each other again.”
Schaffner states that February is an ideal time for norovirus growth. “it’s really taking advantage of our having gotten together for the first time in several years.”
What can you do to protect your family and yourself from norovirus infection?
Experts have the best advice The Sunday Review Avoid contact with others who might be sick.
Dr. Alice Pong, clinical medical director of infectious diseases at Rady Children’s Hospital-San Diego, advises adults to be extra diligent about washing their hands before they eat—and to have their kids do the same. Alcohol-based hand sanitizers don’t work well on some viruses, including norovirus. She suggests that you wash your hands instead of using hand sanitizers.
Alhassani suggests that household cleaners should be able to kill 99.9% viruses. This labeling tells customers that the products can kill norovirus. It is a difficult task and one that Alhassani recommends.
If you’re sick, be sure to stay home and avoid serving and preparing food for others, Ostrosky cautions, emphasizing the importance of paid sick leave—particularly for food workers, in the case of a pathogen like norovirus.
Schaffner said that there has not been yet an approved vaccine against norovirus. However, scientists continue work to develop it. The good news is that most of the people who have norovirus are able to get a vaccine. “this is an illness that makes you miserable for two to three days, but then you recover,” He said.
“This is certainly a very vigorous norovirus year, and we’ll have to see how long it lasts, how quote on quote bad, or severe, it is. It’s out there abundantly.”