Symptoms of norovirus
Norovirus symptoms generally begin within a day or two of exposure. The effects include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and stomach pain and cramps. In some cases, victims also suffer fever, chills, headache, weight loss and fatigue.
Though these symptoms can be severe, they are usually short-lived, and most people recover within two days. Only particularly severe cases, usually involving young children, the elderly or people with compromised immune systems, require hospitalization.
Though the symptoms may end quickly, an infected person can continue to shed the virus, or infect other people with it, for up to three days after recovery, according to the CDC. This is another factor that makes a norovirus outbreak so tough to control.
Norovirus treatment and prevention
Because a norovirus infection usually resolves in a day or two, most cases don't require any extraordinary measures. And because it's a virus, you can't treat it with antibiotics.
Sports drinks and rehydration drinks can help replace fluids lost by diarrhea and vomiting. Though a vaccine for norovirus is in development, it has not yet been approved.
The best way to prevent a norovirus infection -- on a cruise ship or elsewhere -- is through careful handwashing and good general hygiene. Eat only foods that have been properly handled and prepared, avoid raw shellfish and other seafood, and do not drink untreated water.
If you have been infected with norovirus, do not prepare food for others for at least two days after you recover, the CDC recommends. Carefully wash any potentially contaminated laundry; clean toilets, other bathroom surfaces and all kitchen areas with a bleach-based solution.
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