Most viral infections are caused by noroviruses: almost one in three gastroenteritis cases in children. About half of gastrointestinal flu cases in adults are caused by these viruses.
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Norovirus: risk of infection and incubation period
Noroviruses spread particularly quickly when many people come together in a confined space – for example, in kindergartens, schools, clinics or retirement homes. Gastroenteritis, which is caused by noroviruses, can break out particularly quickly: From just a few hours after infection to two days afterwards. Important for you to know: There is a risk of infection for up to two days after the acute phase of the disease. The viruses remain detectable in the stool even up to several weeks after infection. Since there are so many different types of noroviruses, it is even possible that you will become infected again right after you have overcome the illness.
Noroviruses: How to get infected?
The viruses can be transmitted from person to person as a so-called droplet infection, but also through objects or food. Noroviruses can survive on objects such as towels, doorknobs or toilet seats and can even survive temperatures of up to +60 degrees Celsius for several minutes. The viruses can also be transmitted through contaminated food, mainly in a raw state, such as lettuce, fruit, meat and fish. Because they are highly resistant to environmental influences, noroviruses can survive on contaminated objects for up to 12 days. Shared drinks, food and cutlery are also sources of virus transmission.
Norovirus: symptoms and duration
Because infection with noroviruses leads to acute gastroenteritis, those affected also suffer from the typical gastroenteritis symptoms:
– Diarrhea – Nausea and vomiting – Abdominal cramps
Common accompanying symptoms of norovirus include:
– Headache – aching limbs – fever – tiredness
In contrast to infection with other pathogens, such as bacteria, the symptoms of a norovirus infection appear abruptly after a particularly short time, usually after 12 to 48 hours. If you are infected, this does not mean that you suffer from all typical gastrointestinal flu symptoms. How strong or weak the individual symptoms occur depends on the one hand on the severity of the norovirus infection and on the other hand on your personal state of health. The good news: In most cases, the unpleasant diarrhea subsides as quickly as it came – often after 12 to 48 hours. The virus occurs in many different variations. Constantly evolving. On average, every 2 years since 2002, a new type of norovirus is discovered whose genome differs from previous pathogens. Immunization against noroviruses is virtually impossible, so there is no preventive vaccination. Since norovirus is particularly contagious and can be transmitted both as a droplet infection and via objects, we have a few useful tips for you on how to protect yourself from infection:
Wash and disinfect your hands regularly. Important for protection against noroviruses: When washing your hands, make sure that you use a disinfectant that is also effective against viruses. Take special care to wash your hands before preparing and eating raw foods. This is how you avoid the transmission of viruses that you may have on your hands. Food is only guaranteed virus-free when it is cooked. Also, keep fresh food and leftover meals in the refrigerator to minimize the risk of contamination. Do not use the same towels, hygiene products(for example, soap) or bedding like the diseased persons. Disposable towels are recommended. Wash clothes, bedding and towels of the sick person at least 60°C, because noroviruses are heat-resistant up to this temperature. times before use. After use by the sick person. Remember that viruses lurk especially where there are many people: for example, on the bus or in the office. Therefore, try to touch as little as possible what many people touch: Doorknobs, bus handles, computer mice.
If possible, avoid physical contact with your family and other people to avoid infection.
Norovirus: Risk groups and occurrence
In principle, anyone can become infected with the norovirus. However, infection is particularly common in children under 5 years of age. adults over 70 years of age. Therefore Noroviren are also in kindergartens. Old people's homes very often the cause of a real wave of influenza. In infants and young children under the age of 3, noroviruses are the second most common cause of infectious gastrointestinal flu after rotaviruses.
In general, people with a weakened immune system are more susceptible to infection. Noroviruses are widespread worldwide and occur frequently in the winter months between October and March – this is why the pathogen is also called the "winter virus".
If you suspect that you have been infected with norovirus, for example because cases have been reported in the neighborhood, contact your doctor. He will advise you correctly. There is no special treatment for gastroenteritis caused by noroviruses. In the treatment you should pay attention to get your symptoms under control as far as possible (symptomatic treatment), especially diarrhea and vomiting. If you don't treat it, you run the risk of getting infected due to the increased fluid intake-. Electrolyte loss a dangerous dehydration (dehydration).
In addition, you should make sure to drink plenty of fluids and compensate for the loss of fluids and electrolytes with oral rehydration solutions. You can get these electrolyte solutions, just like remedies against diarrhea and vomiting, at the pharmacy.