How can you protect yourself?
There are two important measures you can take.
First, practice proper hand hygiene. Hand-washing is the most effective prevention. Using soap and water, wash your hands thoroughly for at least 20 seconds. It’s been shown that soap and water is even more effective than alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
Second, disinfect surfaces. It’s a good idea to wipe down surfaces with disinfectants, such as a bleach-based household cleaner , particularly before and after preparing food. It’s also recommended to thoroughly wash clothing if a family member has had norovirus.
How can you tell the difference between norovirus and food poisoning or other gastrointestinal-related illnesses?
For most people, it’s actually very hard to tell the difference between norovirus and food poisoning because of the similar gastrointestinal symptoms. The timeline of norovirus is a big indicator.
With food poisoning, there are bacteria like Escherichia coli or Campylobacter that can cause a spectrum of illnesses ranging from a 24-hour bug to something more severe. There are some food poisoning illnesses that can transmit into your blood and cause severe sepsis, or infections. In contrast, norovirus generally causes mild symptoms and lasts no more than 48 to 72 hours.
When is it time to see a doctor?
If you’re experiencing symptoms and your diarrhea, fatigue, or general sense of well-being is not getting better within two to three days, that’s a red flag to seek medical care. Other symptoms such as blood in the stool or increasing fever are also indicators to call a physician.