What is the Norovirus?
Viral gastroenteritis can be caused by a number of viruses. But the most common cause, especially among adults, is the norovirus.
Known previously as the Norwalk virus, the norovirus was discovered during an outbreak of gastroenteritis back in 1968. It is the number 1 cause of foodborne illness and is slowly starting to become more common among children.
People can get infected with the norovirus by eating contaminated food, drinking contaminated water, or even being in contact with a person who has the norovirus.
Norovirus epidemics are common in places without clean drinking water or proper sanitation. This is because contaminated sewage can contaminate water supply or even the food supply, and cause an outbreak.
However, people who live in close quarters, such as in a cruise ship, hotels, or nursing homes are also at risk of the norovirus. Eating food from a place that practices improper food handling can also put people at risk for norovirus.
The norovirus is also particularly resistant to heat and cold, as well as some types of disinfectants.
For the most part, norovirus infections tend to be short and mild. However, patients who have weak immune systems, such as children, the elderly, or people with HIV, are at risk of more severe symptoms.