Norovirus Infection (cont.)
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.
In this Article
- 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?
- Find a local Gastroenterologist in your town
What is the treatment for norovirus infections in adults, children, and babies?
There is no specific treatment or medication for norovirus. It is important that infected individuals remain well hydrated, drinking plenty of fluids. Fluids containing electrolytes and sugars should be encouraged. Over-the-counter antidiarrheal medications may be used according to directions but should be avoided in cases with severe abdominal pain or fever. Some researchers advise people to avoid these medications if possible as they may prolong the disease.
What are possible complications of a norovirus infection?
Although most cases of norovirus infection are mild, complications may occur. Complications are related to the degree of dehydration. People who cannot keep up with fluid losses may require hospitalization for intravenous fluids.
Approximately 10% of infected people seek medical attention. Very young children and infants are at high risk for dehydration because they cannot communicate their symptoms and because dehydration may occur rapidly. Pregnant women should pay particular attention to keeping up with fluid losses.
Although norovirus infection is not fatal, it can contribute to mortality by causing underlying illnesses to become worse. Elderly, debilitated people are especially at risk for complications related to dehydration, including kidney failure.
What is the prognosis of a norovirus infection?
Norovirus infection is a self-limited illness that lasts two to three days in most people. As discussed above, complications are usually related to dehydration or underlying illnesses. In some countries where poor hydration already may exist in children, many may die from dehydration if IV replenishment is not available. In 2006, the World Health Organization recommended a new prepackaged oral rehydration salts (ORS) formula that can be shipped to underdeveloped countries and simply poured into clean water that can prevent dehydration in many patients. This approach has improved the prognosis for many children in underdeveloped countries.
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