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Norovirus: Protecting Your Children from Infection

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Known as the “stomach flu” or stomach bug, Norovirus is most commonly experienced in children and young adults. Norovirus is very easily transmitted, so it is important that, if your child is exhibiting symptoms, that you care for them in a more secluded area to avoid spreading the disease further.

Symptoms of Norovirus

Characteristics of Norovirus are as follows:

  • Sudden onset of vomiting
  • Watery diarrhea
  • Stomach cramps

Some other less common symptoms include headaches, fever and muscle ache. If the muscle and body aches and pains are persistent and severe, this could be a sign that the condition is worsening.

In general, the symptom of extreme nausea and vomiting does not exceed 24 hours, while other symptoms last from 24 – 60 hours.
Acute diarrhea without vomiting may also occur. Not every case of Norovirus is the same, symptoms may present one way with one child, and a different way with another. It is important to keep a close eye on your child. If they seem to exhibit classic symptoms, it is likely that they have contracted the virus.

How Norovirus is spread

Norovirus is, put simply, a major outbreak of the stomach flu. Transmission is person to person, through the ingestion of contaminated food and water, or through the touching of contaminated surfaces. Because children are very curious, and often touching as many objects as possible and putting foreign objects in their mouths, they are more susceptible to contamination.

Preventing your child from contracting Norovirus

The following are ways to prevent you or your child from contracting Norovirus:

  • Wash your hands and your child’s hands frequently with soap and water for at least 29 seconds
  • Make sure the toilet is flushed, keeping infected feces from spreading infection
  • Keep surfaces of your house and objects your child comes into contact with clean
  • Do not eat raw, or soiled produce
  • Keep your child away from areas that have had outbreaks, and keep them home for monitoring and treatment

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If your child has Norovirus

At present, there is no cure for Norovirus. It is important that you treat your child at home, as the disease is highly transmittable. The following are useful treatment methods to help your child overcome the virus:

  • Make sure your child is drinking fluids to make up for loss of fluids due to vomiting and diarrhea
    (if your baby has Norovirus, it is recommended you resume feeding schedules as usual)
  • Lower your child’s fever and help relieve aches and pains with paracetamol
  • Avoid exertion; make sure your child is getting plenty of rest. Being overly active can had adverse affects on their weakened state.

Because Norovirus is easily spread, you should wash your hands consistently to avoid spreading the disease. If your child does not currently have Norovirus, and there is an outbreak in an area near you or at your child’s school or pre-school, it may be best to keep them home to avoid contraction.

When to take your child to the doctor

Again, because this disease has no cure and is highly contagious, it is recommended you treat your child at home to avoid spreading the disease. However, if the following occurs you should seek medical attention:

  • If vomiting continues or worsens after 24 hours
  • Your child’s fever is not going down
  • Your child has pale, mottled skin
  • Your child has had 6 or more bouts of diarrhea in 24 hours
  • Your child has bloody diarrhea
  • Your child is exhibiting symptoms of severe dehydration, such as passing little urine or seeming weak
  • Your child has shown no signs of improving over a couple of days

Because there is no cure for Norovirus, and it is so easily spread, it is important that you do everything you can to prevent your child from contracting it. This virus can be quite dangerous for very young children, as they are continuously losing fluids. However, if you child does have Norovirus, do not panic. They can be cared for at home or, if the condition becomes more severe, taken to the doctor to devise a treatment method best suited to your child and their specific case. The wellbeing of you and your family is of the utmost importance.

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Recommended Doctor

Passorn Punyahotra, M.D. Summary: Pediatrics Pediatric Infectious Diseases