ELM Edge

The norovirus is more common during the winter months but can strike people at any time of the year. You can also become infected after touching an object that has been infected with the virus and then touching your eyes, nose, or mouth. Once some- one is infected with the norovirus, the virus can rapidly spread from person to person through shared utensils, food, or by shak- ing hands, or other close contact. When those with the norovirus vomit, the virus can spread through the droplets and contaminate surfaces. If someone doesn’t wash his/her hands thoroughly after using the bathroom, they can quickly spread the virus. Leaving dirty diapers from an infected baby can also spread the norovirus.

Escaping the Norovirus

OROVIRUS ALERT! I just want to remind everyone that if you have the “GI Bug” which is most commonly caused by the norovirus, stay away from family, friends, and col- leagues for at least 2 to 3 days (48 to 72 HOURS) after the last episode of vomiting and/or diarrhea. Those who are most at risk of becoming severely ill are infants, children, the elderly, and those who are immunocompromised. I know that many don’t want to be left out of events or work, but don’t be responsible for making others severely ill.

N The norovirus spreads easily through drinks and food and can

have a major impact on people's health. When people complain of having had food poisoning, it is usually due to food-borne dis- ease related to the GI illness in those who prepared the food. They may have inadvertently contaminated the food.

When people contract the norovirus, they can suddenly start with symptoms 24 to 48 hours after being exposed. Symptoms include nausea, vomiting (seen more often in children), watery diarrhea (more often in adults), and severe stomach cramps. Some people develop other symptoms which include chills, low-grade fever, fatigue, headaches, and muscle aches. Most of these symp- toms aren't serious and people tend to recover quickly. Diarrhea and vomiting can be serious for many when they become dehy- drated, malnourished, and are depleted of their vital nutrients. Children and the elderly are most susceptible to dehydration, as well as malnutrition from not getting enough nutrients. Most people get over the illness in several days and will have to replen- ish their fluids and electrolytes. For those who become lethargic, listless, and their condition worsens, they may need immediate medical attention and IV fluids with electrolytes to treat the severe dehydration.

In my previous job caring for employees of a large hospital, our protocol entailed keeping employees out of work for at least 48 to 72 hours after their last GI episode as even when symptoms are over, people still shed the virus (up to 8-weeks) but it becomes less infectious. For those who are food handlers, they should not return to work for 72 hours after their last episode. Above all, con- tinue to use good hand hygiene.

Gloria Oppen is a Family Nurse Practitioner at Southern Maine Integrative Health Center in Kennebunk, Maine. Please call 207.985.3079 to schedule an appointment. She accepts most health insurances. See ad on page 11.

8 ELM™ Maine - May/June 2019

Page 1  |  Page 2  |  Page 3  |  Page 4  |  Page 5  |  Page 6  |  Page 7  |  Page 8  |  Page 9  |  Page 10  |  Page 11  |  Page 12  |  Page 13  |  Page 14  |  Page 15  |  Page 16  |  Page 17  |  Page 18  |  Page 19  |  Page 20  |  Page 21  |  Page 22  |  Page 23  |  Page 24  |  Page 25  |  Page 26  |  Page 27  |  Page 28  |  Page 29  |  Page 30  |  Page 31  |  Page 32  |  Page 33  |  Page 34  |  Page 35  |  Page 36