Norovirus – symptoms, causes, risk factors & complications


The norovirus is an intestinal and stomach virus which is very contagious. This virus passes easily through direct or indirect contact with the infected person. Norovirus can spread quickly in close quarters, such as day care centers, schools and hospitals. In the most cases, people have some experience with the norovirus.

This is a very common illness of the intestinal tract and stomach. Also, norovirus can be a source of food poisoning, because you can get this virus by eating contaminated foods. The results of this virus are same no matter how you get it. Vomiting and watery, non – bloody diarrhea are the hallmark symptoms of norovirus. These symptoms usually start within 12 – 48 hours after you have being exposed to this and they can last up to 3 days. Most people get full recovery from this virus.



The symptoms of norovirus infection can start between 12 and 48 hours after you have been exposed to norovirus. These symptoms can range from mild to severe. Here are some signs and symptoms

  • Generalized body aches
  • Headache
  • Chills
  • Low – grade fever
  • Watery stools or diarrhea
  • Abdominal cramping or pain
  • Nausea and vomiting

Symptoms of norovirus usually last between 24 – 72 hours. You should visit your doctor if you have noticed that your symptoms persist beyond that or if you see blood in your stools. If you have severe diarrhea, then it could lead to dehydration which is considered as a medical emergency. Here are some signs and symptoms of dehydration

  • Rapid heart rate
  • Confusion and lethargy
  • Dizziness
  • Headache
  • Sleepiness and fatigue
  • Sunken eyes
  • No urine in 12 hours for children
  • No wet diaper for 6 – 8 hours in infants
  • Decreased output of urine or dark urine
  • Dry mouth and throat

Those children who have dehydration are crying without producing tears which is a common sign of significant dehydration. You should seek medical care right away. Also, your children can be irritable and fussy. Dehydration can be a life – threatening condition, especially for following groups:

  • Organ or stem cell transplant recipients
  • The very old and the very young people
  • People with preexisting health conditions
  • People with a weakened immune system

There are some studies in which are shown that about 30% of people who have this, have no symptoms at all and this is a very common in children.


The norovirus is highly contagious and it shed in the feces of infected people and animals. Here are some methods of transmission of this virus:

  • Being in close contact with a person who has a that infection
  • If you are touching your hand to your mouth after your hand has been in contact with a contaminated surface or object
  • Drinking contaminated water
  • Eating contaminated food

It is known that noroviruses are difficult to wipe out because they can withstand hot and cold temperatures, as well as most disinfectants.

Risk factors

Here are some factors which increase your risk of becoming infected with norovirus:

  • Having contact with someone who has that infection
  • If you stay in resorts, hotels, cruise ships or other destinations with many people in close quarters
  • You are living in close quarters, such as in nursing homes
  • Attending preschool or a child care center
  • You are eating in a place where food is handled with unsanitary procedures


In the most cases, the norovirus infection can clear up in a period of a few days and it is not life – threatening infection. But also there are some cases when in some people, especially children and older adults with compromised immune systems in nursing homes or hospitals, the norovirus infection can cause severe dehydration, malnutrition and even death. This virus is extremely contagious. Any single person can get norovirus and you can easily get infected again. Here are some reasons why the norovirus is so contagious:

  • The norovirus is hardy and it can survive outside your body for several days
  • The virus has a short incubation period. This means that you can spread the norovirus before you know that you are sick.
  • It takes only eighteen virus particles to make you sick.


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