Don’t catch the norovirus

By Katherine Conroy

Just when your laptop has recovered from a nasty virus, you start to feel ill. Between abdominal cramps, vomiting, nausea, and diarrhea, you’re feeling pretty terrible. In addition, you’re running a low-grade fever, have the chills, and feel fatigued. What is going on? You may very well have caught a virus, the norovirus. Unfortunately, McAfee antivirus software will not help.

What exactly is the norovirus? The norovirus is a viral infection that causes gastroenteritis, inflammation of the stomach and intestines. This inflammation leads to abdominal cramps, vomiting, nausea, and diarrhea. A low-grade fever, chills, and fatigue may also accompany the vomiting and diarrhea.  “I have never been so sick in my life,” said Karen Magno, who contracted the norovirus after traveling. “I was vomiting for days and felt extremely dizzy.”

If you did indeed catch the norovirus, you are in great company. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1 in 15 Americans will catch this nasty infection in a given year. The norovirus spreads like wildfire and symptoms of the illness usually begin without warning.

Luckily, symptoms of a norovirus infection usually improve within one to two days, and are not usually serious. However, young children, the elderly, and those with existing medical problems should be monitored closely, as dehydration could be a serious complication for members of these populations. Symptoms of dehydration include decreased urination, dry mouth, and dizziness. Drink plenty of fluids, but stay away from beverages that contain caffeine and alcohol, as they can worsen dehydration.

Because the norovirus is extremely contagious,it is vital that precautions are taken to prevent the spread of it around campus. Wash your hands frequently, especially after using the bathroom and before food preparation and eating.

Speaking of food, there are some things that you can do to prevent the spread the norovirus while eating in Holmes Dining Commons. According to an email from Martha Favre, Director of Student Health Services, it is a good idea to wash your hands thoroughly before picking up a plate and a tray at Holmes and use a new cup every time you grab something to drink. In order to prevent the spread of the norovirus and other illness, don’t fill water bottles or share silverware and cups while at Holmes Dining Commons.

Unfortunately, there is no cure for the norovirus. Because antibiotics only are effective against bacterial infections, they are not used in treating the norovirus. Luckily, the norovirus is not usually a serious illness, but do all you can to prevent catching the norovirus in the first place.

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