Charles Patrick Davis, MD, PhD
Dr. Charles "Pat" Davis, MD, PhD, is a board certified Emergency Medicine doctor who currently practices as a consultant and staff member for hospitals. He has a PhD in Microbiology (UT at Austin), and the MD (Univ. Texas Medical Branch, Galveston). He is a Clinical Professor (retired) in the Division of Emergency Medicine, UT Health Science Center at San Antonio, and has been the Chief of Emergency Medicine at UT Medical Branch and at UTHSCSA with over 250 publications.
Mary D. Nettleman, MD, MS, MACP
Mary D. Nettleman, MD, MS, MACP is the Chair of the Department of Medicine at Michigan State University. She is a graduate of Vanderbilt Medical School, and completed her residency in Internal Medicine and a fellowship in Infectious Diseases at Indiana University.
- Norovirus infection facts
- What is a norovirus?
- What causes a norovirus infection?
- What are norovirus infection symptoms and signs in adults, children, and babies?
- What is the incubation period for a norovirus infection? How long are people infected with norovirus contagious?
- How is a norovirus infection diagnosed?
- What is the treatment for norovirus infections in adults, children, and babies?
- What are possible complications of a norovirus infection?
- What is the prognosis of a norovirus infection?
- Can norovirus infections be prevented? Is there a vaccine?
- Where can people get more information about norovirus infections?
- Patient Comments: Norovirus Infection - Symptoms
- Patient Comments: Norovirus Infection - Treatment
- Find a local Gastroenterologist in your town
Norovirus infection facts
- Norovirus is a small virus that is highly contagious between humans.
- People acquire the virus by ingesting material contaminated with small amounts of infected feces or fluids. Food and water may be contaminated during processing or handling.
- Noroviruses are the most common cause of gastroenteritis in the United States.
- Infected people usually experience vomiting or watery diarrhea or both.
- The illness usually lasts two to three days and resolves by itself.
- There is no specific treatment for norovirus, but it is important that infected people stay well hydrated. Fluids containing sugar and electrolytes should be encouraged. Intravenous fluids may be needed if the person cannot maintain an adequate oral intake of fluids.
- Complications are usually related to the degree of dehydration. Young children and the elderly are at special risk for dehydration.
- Because the disease is highly contagious, it is important for caretakers to clean their hands whenever they come into contact with the ill person or their environment.
- The risk of food-borne outbreaks or outbreaks within hospitals or nursing homes may be minimized by following established standards that include hand hygiene.
What is a norovirus?
A norovirus is a small virus that contains RNA and is surrounded by a protein coating. By sequencing the RNA, scientists have discovered that there are many different types of norovirus. Originally, strains were named based on the city in which they were first identified. Thus, one common strain used to be called Norwalk virus. Based on genetic typing, we now know that there are at least 25 different strains of norovirus that affect humans. The RNA genome in noroviruses apparently is easily mutated to produce new norovirus types.
Norovirus infection is the most common cause of gastroenteritis outbreaks in the U.S. Although some people call this the "stomach flu," norovirus is not related to the influenza virus. According to statistics from the CDC, there are 21 million cases of norovirus infection annually in the U.S., of which one-quarter are related to food-borne outbreaks. Outbreaks occur throughout the year but are more common in the winter months. There is no specific treatment for norovirus. Fortunately, the disease is self-limited and simple supportive measures are sufficient to care for most people unless they become dehydrated. Outbreaks can occur almost anywhere in the world. In 2012, a new strain named GII.4 Sydney was identified. Since the first outbreak, the virus was quickly detected in New Zealand, France, and the U.S. It has caused about half of the norovirus infections detected in 2012-2013 in the U.S. A new outbreak of norovirus occurred at Yellowstone National Park, causing illness in about 200 visitors and camp employees in June 2013.
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