No vaccines, no antibiotics available for norovirus

Physicians say hand washing is the best defense against norovirus / Sarah Bleau

In Tuesday's Facebook Story of the Day, viewers wanted to know about Norovirus -- also known as "stomach flu" and "food poisoning" and how to prevent it.

According to the Center of Disease Control and Prevention, symptoms of the norovirus include vomiting, diarrhea and stomach pain, and sometimes low-grade fever, chills, headache and muscle aches.

The virus is spread easily from person to person through contaminated water, food and by touching contaminated surfaces, according to the CDC.

"Unfortunately there's no antibiotic, so the treatment is basically staying hydrated and waiting for nature to take its course. For some people it's severe enough they need IV fluids sometimes they need medicine for the nausea and vomiting," says Dr. Bill Fricks, Medical Director for Phoebe Family Care Center.

Severe dehydration can occur in the very young and elderly people or those with underlying illnesses according to Fricks; he says in these cases they may need to see a doctor about getting an IV drip or prescription. According to the CDC, symptoms of dehydration include a decrease in urination, a dry mouth and throat, and feeling dizzy when standing up. A dehydrated child may also cry with few or no tears.

The norovirus typically lasts one or two days, Fricks says. He says even once a person's symptoms have resolved, they are still contagious for up to three days.

Other prevention methods listed by the CDC include the following:
-Thoroughly clean and disinfect contaminated surfaces immediately after an episode of the illness by using a bleach-based household cleaner
-Immediately remove and wash clothing, towels or linens that may be contaminated with virus after an episode of illness (use hot water and soap)
-Flush or discard any vomitus and/or stool in the toilet and make sure that the surrounding area is kept clean
-Persons who are infected with norovirus should not prepare food while they have symptoms and for three days after they recover from their illness
-Food that may have been contaminated by an ill person should be disposed of properly
-Frequently wash your hands, especially after toilet visits and changing diapers as well as before eating or preparing food
-Carefully wash fruits and vegetables, and steam oysters before eating them

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