Influenza isn’t the only virus that is making headlines in the United States this winter; the norovirus is also making people sick. And this year, there is a new strain of norovirus called GII.4 Sydney.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the norovirus is responsible for making 21 million people sick each year, but some people get the norovirus, also commonly called the stomach flu, mixed up with influenza, when in fact they are two totally different viruses.
Let’s take a look at norovirus symptoms and see what happens when it attacks your body.
Norovirus: Highly Contagious
The norovirus is highly contagious and spreads quickly and easily in places where there are a lot of people. Day cares, long-term care facilities, cruise ships, schools, and hotels are all places where there are a lot of people in small areas where norovirus outbreaks are likely to occur. The virus itself can live on practically anything, for up to 12 hours, according to the Public Health Agency of Canada. (The flu virus can even live on household pets!) On contaminated surfaces such as carpet, norovirus has been shown to survive up to 12 days.
So how does this virus enter your body?
Stomach Flu Spreads
The norovirus lives in the vomit and stool of the sick person. If you’re sick, and you don’t wash your hands after using the bathroom or throwing up, then (even though you can’t see it on the your hands) you touch an object or prepare food, you’re transferring the virus to others. A healthy person comes along, picks up that same object and then touches his/her eyes, nose, or mouth and then the virus has a way in. If you haven’t gotten it yet, you can get the norovirus by eating food prepared by a sick person, if they haven’t washed their hands really thoroughly.
I know, you’re thinking – who’s going to be making food with the stomach flu? Well, unfortunately, you may still be contagious even after you feel better.
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