Symptoms, how to prevent during spring break

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We’ve all been there – you’re enjoying your day, feeling great, when suddenly your stomach turns and you’re looking for the nearest bathroom to spend the next few hours. What happened? Was it something you ate?

Norovirus is the most likely culprit, and it can happen to anyone. Luckily, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has shared some tips on the best ways to avoid it, especially when you’re on spring break, so you don’t ruin what’s supposed to be a good time.

We’ll tell you what norovirus is and expert steps you can take to avoid it on spring break travel for peace of mind—and your stomach.

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What is norovirus?

Norovirus, more commonly known as the “stomach flu,” is a common virus that is a leading cause of foodborne illness. In the United States, 19–21 million cases are diagnosed annually, with 109,000 hospitalizations and 900 deaths annually. It differs from the flu (influenza) because the influenza virus causes respiratory diseases, while the norovirus causes inflammation mainly in the stomach and intestines.

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How do you get norovirus?

Norovirus is spread by close contact with a person who has the virus. Sharing dishes, sharing food, caring for an infected person, or eating food that someone has handled are all possible ways for the virus to spread. In addition, norovirus can be spread by touching particles of feces or vomit infected with the virus and then touching the nose or mouth.

Norovirus symptoms

The most common symptoms of norovirus are vomiting, diarrhea, nausea and abdominal pain. Rare symptoms include fever, headache and body aches. Symptoms of norovirus typically appear 12 to 24 hours after a person has been exposed to it. Studies show that the virus can spread for up to two weeks after a person appears to have recovered from it.

Can norovirus be treated?

Currently, there are no vaccines or specific treatments for norovirus, there are only ways to treat the symptoms. However, there are ways to mitigate the spread, as outlined by the CDC. Talk to your doctor about the best ways to treat your symptoms.

CDC tips to protect yourself and your family

wash your hands

The CDC notes that frequent and thorough hand washing is vital to controlling the spread of norovirus. Thorough hand washing involves lathering them with soap for 20 seconds (or about the time it takes to sing Happy Birthday) and rinsing with warm water. The CDC notes that hand sanitizer is not effective at killing norovirus, so it cannot be used as a substitute for handwashing, although it can be used in conjunction with other germs to control the spread.

The CDC states that hand washing is especially important after the following procedures:

  • Changing diapers
  • Touching common surfaces
  • Shakes hands
  • Caring for sick people

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Wears gloves

The CDC recommends using disposable gloves whenever you clean up after someone with norovirus. This way, you reduce the risk of accidentally getting yourself caught. The best disposable gloves we’ve tested are the Venom Steel Nitrile Gloves because they’re durable, textured, and latex-free.

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Clean the dishes carefully

Do not leave leftovers from a sick person in dishes and be careful when handling contaminated dishes. Use a high-quality dishwashing detergent, like our favorite dish soap, Dawn Ultra, to make sure your dishes are clean to eat after being used by someone with norovirus. We love it because it’s great at cleaning tough stains and has a pleasant, fruity scent.

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Disinfect surfaces

If you are cleaning surfaces near people who are infected with norovirus or who have been contaminated with feces or vomit, it is important to do so carefully with bleach or another approved cleaning agent. You can use premixed bleach or mix your own using 3/4 cup of bleach to one gallon of water. If the mess ends up on the floor, use our favorite traditional mop, the O-Cedar EasyWring Spin Mop & Bucket system, which is washable and easy to control.

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Wash fruits and vegetables thoroughly

Another way to ensure that norovirus is not spread is to properly prepare the food you eat. This includes thoroughly rinsing the product. A strainer will help you do this efficiently. Our favorite is the OXO Good Grips 5-Quart Stainless Steel Colander. It stays in place, is easy to hold and most importantly has good drainage.

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Clean contaminated laundry

The laundry of someone infected with norovirus should also be washed, especially if there is vomit or feces on the laundry. Our favorite detergent for this task is Persil ProClean, which removes the best stain of all the detergents we tested.

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Dispose of trash immediately

You should also change the trash can often if it might contain a virus, as this reduces the risk of spreading it. The best trash bags are Glad ForceFlexPlus Tall Kitchen Drawstring Bags for their durability, flexibility, and ability to mask trash odors.

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Avoid dehydration

While nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea are never pleasant, there are ways to make recovery a little less painful if you or someone you love contracts norovirus. It’s important to stay hydrated because the biggest part of getting norovirus is that you lose fluids quickly. Dehydration can be dangerous and only make you feel worse. Symptoms of dehydration include vomiting, diarrhoea, nausea and abdominal pain – exactly the same symptoms as norovirus. We recommend using our favorite water bottle, the Brita BB11 Premium Filtering Water Bottle, which filters odors, can be opened with one hand, and keeps water cool for up to 24 hours.

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