Norovirus is a virus that affects your stomach and intestines. Common symptoms include nausea, diarrhea, and vomiting. Symptoms usually last a couple of days, but you can be contagious for up to two weeks or more after symptoms have passed. It is extremely easy to catch norovirus, as it is highly contagious. But how do you actually catch norovirus? Where are you more susceptible to getting it?
Let’s take a look at the three most common ways to catch norovirus:
- Direct contact with someone who has norovirus
Norovirus is very contagious and having direct contact with someone who is infected puts you at high risk of catching it yourself. Norovirus is spread via the fecal-oral route. This means that it lives in the digestive system and if you come into contact with someone who has norovirus and he/she has not thoroughly washed his hands, the germs on his hands are left on whatever he touches, including you. If you know someone who is experiencing symptoms of norovirus, try not to have any contact and if you must, wash your hands regularly, and especially before you handle food or eat.
- Touching a surface with norovirus
Norovirus can live on a surface or object much longer than many other viruses. In fact, it can live several weeks just sitting there on a surface like a door knob, countertop, bathroom faucet, and more, just waiting for someone to touch it. Because of this, even if there have been no cases of norovirus lately, it is still contagious to the touch. Use caution when touching surfaces and never touch your face before you wash your hands. It is extremely important to wash your hands before eating, especially in a public place because you may have come in contact with a surface contaminated with norovirus.
- Eating or drinking something that is contaminated
It will be impossible for you to know if the food or drink you are consuming is contaminated with norovirus. How will you know if the food service staff is washing their hands effectively? You won’t, but you can use more caution when preparing food yourself. Make sure your hands or the hands of the person preparing the food or drink are clean using proper handwashing techniques. When it comes to eating out at restaurants, it never hurts to ask around for input when it comes to how “clean” kitchen staff is. Some establishments are much better at monitoring their workers’ cleanliness habits and handling norovirus cases appropriately. You’ll want to avoid those places that get the most cases of “food poisoning”.
Other common ways of catching norovirus:
- Not washing your hands after using the restroom
- Not using hot, soapy water and washing vigorously for at least 30 seconds
- Eating out at restaurants and fast food joint often
- Eating undercooked food
- Traveling to a foreign country
- Letting someone with norovirus prepare food for you
- Not washing your hands when you get home from shopping
- Touching your mouth, nose, or eyes with hands full of germs
- Not sanitizing the whole room after a norovirus vomiting or diarrhea episode
- Throwing clothes in with the regular laundry that have vomit or diarrhea on them
- Changing a baby’s diaper and not washing hands afterwards
Norovirus is very contagious and sometimes it can be caught even when you follow all the precautions. However, your chances of catching norovirus decrease when you understand how it is caught and transmitted, and follow tips for keeping it contained.