When everyone was staying home and keeping their distance from one another, we witnessed a drop in norovirus (stomach virus) cases. Now that we’re socializing again, closer contact allows these yucky bugs to spread much more easily.
Norovirus is responsible for many cases of vomiting and diarrhea, sickening 20 million Americans each year. And in older people or those with less robust immune systems, norovirus can kill. About 900 Americans die of the stomach bug annually.
With norovirus on the rise, it’s important to learn how to prevent getting sick.
Wash your hands. You might be surprised at how many objects we all touch every single day. Washing your hands regularly throughout the day can prevent you from picking up the virus and spreading it around your environment. In particular, focus on hand washing each time you use the restroom, and before you prepare or eat food.
Use soap, not hand sanitizers. You might be surprised to learn that hand sanitizers actually don’t kill norovirus very well. Plain old soap and water is much more effective.
Don’t touch your eyes, nose, or mouth. Be careful about touching your eyes, nose, and mouth at any time (unless you’ve just washed your hands). This is one of the easiest ways for a virus to get into your body.
Clean surfaces regularly. Clean your most-touched surfaces regularly with a diluted bleach solution. This includes things like countertops, doorknobs, and light switches.
Wash fruits and vegetables. Fruits and vegetables can pick up norovirus (on the surface only), so washing before consuming them is wise.
Limit contact with infected family members. Norovirus is spread through contact, so limit your interaction when a family member gets sick with a stomach bug. Use a different bathroom in the meantime, keep separate eating and drinking utensils, and clean surfaces more frequently.
And of course, if you think you’ve contracted a norovirus, remember that dehydration is the primary danger. Keep drinking water or an electrolyte solution, no matter how uncomfortable you might feel. Call your physician or head straight to the emergency room if the illness is severe or lasts for more than two days.