Fort Worth, Texas,
09:39 AM

5 Facts About Norovirus Every Parent Needs To Know

Doc Smitty on what the virus is and a cleaning up plan for your home after it's gone

Vomiting. Diarrhea. Vomiting. Vomiting. Diarrhea ...

When these are the main complaints on my patient schedule, I know it’s probably norovirus time. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that each year norovirus causes 19 to 21 million illnesses, 56,000 to 71,000 hospitalizations and 570 to 800 deaths. Anyone can get infected with norovirus and you can get it more than once. It is estimated that a person will get norovirus about 5 times during their lifetime. Many people usually get sick with norovirus in cooler months, especially from November to April.

Here are 5 facts you need to know about norovirus:

1. Norovirus can cause SEVERE vomiting and diarrhea. Treating children with fluids and monitoring for dehydration is critical.

2. Norovirus is HIGHLY contagious by contact with another person with the virus, eating food that is contaminated or touching contaminated surfaces and putting your fingers in your mouth. Symptoms usually develop 1-2 days after you have been exposed.

3. Prevent infection by washing foods very well, washing your hands with soap and water frequently and disinfecting contaminated surfaces.

4. Norovirus “season” typically runs from November to April but it appears there are several cases popping up over the last month across the country and in North Texas.

5. Monitor for the following signs of dehydration including: dry mouth or lips, decreased activity level or decreased urine.

If you have had a child (or you have had) with norovirus, here is a cleaning plan to help “decontaminate” your house:

1. Wash your hands with soap and water frequently.

2. Wear gloves for everything (diaper changes, cleaning and handling clothes esp…).

3. Clean all toys and surfaces with a bleach solution (5-10 tablespoons in 1 gallon of water).

4. Wash laundry on the hottest, longest cycle available and machine dry.

Hopefully with these tips you can prevent norovirus from entering your home or at least stop the spread. If you have further questions, contact your Cook Children’s pediatrician.

About the author

Justin Smith is a pediatrician and the Medical Advisor for Digital Health for Cook Children's in Fort Worth, Texas. He has an active community on both Facebook and Twitter as @TheDocSmitty and writes weekly for Cook Children's His interest in communications started when he realized that his parents were relying more on the internet for medical information. He believes that strategic use of social media and technology by pediatricians to connect with families can deepen their relationship and provide a new level of convenience for both of their busy lifestyles. Dr. Smith’s innovative pediatric clinic, a pediatric clinic “designed by you,” is set to open in Trophy Club in 2017.


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