Amid the pandemic, the UK recently recorded new cases of yet another viral outbreak — norovirus. According to Public Health England (PHE), there have been 154 cases of norovirus.
We spoke to Dr Manoj Sharma, senior consultant, Internal Medicine, Fortis Hospital Vasant Kunj, to know more about the norovirus infection, its causes and symptoms.
What is norovirus and what are the causes?
“It is a highly contagious virus which causes gastroenteritis — nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea,” says Dr Sharma. The mode of transmission is through the fecal-oral route, which means one can be infected if they come in contact with contaminated food, water or bowel motions.
It can also stay on surfaces, Dr Sharma added. “If hand hygiene is not maintained properly, it can increase the chances of spread of infection.”
Norovirus is of concern especially in the monsoons because the quality of water in our households may not be good. “If the water is contaminated, it can affect people in the house. Besides, if someone, who is infected with Norovirus, is cooking, they can potentially infect others,” the doctor said.
How is it treated?
With viral gastroenteritis, the treatment is all symptomatic and supportive. “So antibiotics do not play any role. It is mainly about maintaining hydration — having ORS. Viral gastroenteritis tends to last for five to six days or may be longer. The key is to prevent dehydration,” Dr Sharma says.
The best way to prevent the infection is by maintaining good hygiene standards, the doctor states.
How are norovirus and coronavirus different?
While Covid is transmitted via air, norovirus is transmitted the orofecal way. “We have to ingest, then only will the virus get inside the body. While maintaining hand hygiene is crucial in both cases, masking is mainly for COVID. That is because the route of transmission is different in each case,” Dr Sharma explains.