A Food Borne Illness
There are many food borne illnesses but the norovirus is very interesting. A norovirus is a small virus that contains RNA and is surrounded by a protein coating. Based on genetic typing, it is now known that there are at least twenty-five different strains if norovirus that affect humans. Norovirus infection is the most common cause of what some people call the “stomach flu,” although norovirus is not related to the influenza virus. According to statistics from the CDC, there are twenty-one million cases of norovirus infections annually in the U.S., of which one-quarter are related to food-borne out brakes.
Infection occurs when people ingest material contaminated with small amounts of fluids or feces from an infected person. It does not take much to get infected, so even microscopic amounts of feces or fluids can be contagious. An infected person can contaminate their environment directly or spread virus particles through aerosolized droplets when throwing up. Contamination may also occur in food and/or in water, which has led to infection spreading widely in restaurants or aboard cruise ships. Just last week a total of three hundred and sixty four passengers and thirty, crew were infected on a cruise, after which The Princess undertook rigorous sanitation measures.
Most people get sick within one day of ingesting norovirus. Symptoms and signs include vomiting or watery diarrhea or both. Fever, cramping abdominal or stomach pains, a general feeling of tiredness, headache, and muscle aches are also common. Some people are usually thirsty, although they may have trouble keeping anything down. Symptoms in adults may be different than symptoms in children. Young children and babies may not complain of thirst but may appear listless or lethargic as they become dehydrated. Norovirus may have a prolonged infection period that starts even before a patient gets sick.