Calciviruses, Tummy flu, Stomach flu
Introduction to the norwalk virus:
You may not have heard of Norwalk virus, but your child has probably had it or will have it. It is not a flu virus, but when people speak of the “tummy flu,” they are often referring to a Norwalk virus infection.
What is norwalk virus?
Norwalk virus was first identified as the cause of an outbreak of gastroenteritis among children at a school in Norwalk, Ohio – and among their teachers and their families.
Norwalk virus is a significant cause of gastroenteritis outbreaks in schools, day-cares, summer camps, restaurants, and cruise ships.
It is also a significant cause of gastroenteritis in the absence of an outbreak.
In addition, Norwalk virus is a significant cause of food poisoning.
Who gets norwalk virus?
Anyone can get Norwalk virus, from the nursery to the nursing home, but those at highest risk are children under 4.
Outbreaks often occur in settings where there is close contact between many children. The virus is found in stool and on hands and surfaces that have had contact with stool.
Norwalk food poisoning has most often been associated with contaminated ice, water, raw shellfish, salads, sandwiches, and cookies.
The virus is destroyed by cooking, but not by freezing
What are the symptoms of norwalk virus?
Is norwalk virus contagious?
Norwalk virus is quite contagious, and may be spread via the fecal-oral route, through direct contact,through infected fomites, or through contaminated food or water.
How long does the norwalk virus last?
Symptoms usually begin 12 hours to 4 days after having been exposed. The illness may last for as little as a day, or as long as 2 weeks.
How is norwalk virus diagnosed?
The diagnosis is usually based on history and physical examination. Stool tests are available that can detect the virus.
How is norwalk virus treated?
Usually, the only treatment is to prevent or treat dehydration by drinking plenty of fluids. Oral rehydration solutions such as Pedialyte may be used. In more severe cases, intravenous fluids may be needed.
Antibiotics usually make the situation worse.
How can norwalk virus be prevented?
Wash hands before preparing or serving foods. Have someone else prepare the food if you have cramps, nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea, or have sores on your hands.
Children, and those who care for them, should wash thoroughly before eating and after toileting.
For further prevention ideas, see the articles on fecal-oral transmission, contact transmission, and fomites.
Related A-to-Z Information:
Adenovirus, Campylobacter, Celiac Disease, Clostridium Perfringens, Contact Transmission, Dehydration, Diaper Rash, Diarrhea, E. Coli, Enteroviruses, Fomites, Food Allergies, Gastroenteritis, Giardia Lamblia, Headache, Infant Botulism, Influenza (Flu), Rotavirus, Salmonella, Staph (Staphylococcus aureus), Vomiting
Last reviewed: October 29, 2013