Norovirus – The dreaded winter vomit bug

LifeClean’s Dr. Samira Leilish updates on the spreading and effects of one of our most common, season bound infections.

What is the Norovirus?

The Norovirus belong to a virus family called Calici viruses. In scientific terms it is a “small non-enveloped single stranded RNA genom”. The Norovirus, and especially the variety called GII.4, is the most common cause of the so called Norwalk Infection or what is more popularly referred to as Winter Vomiting Disease. It causes severe vomiting and diarrhea, is extremely contagious and affects young and old alike.

How do you get infected?

The Norovirus transmits feco-orally, from infected feces/vomit to mouth, and is highly contageous. You may be infected from contaminated food or water, or simply from close contact with someone who is already infected.

The virus can quickly pass from an infected person to another through shared food or utensils, by shaking hands or through any other kind of contact. Care related outbreaks are common and are often a tough issue to handle for hospitals and other care institutions.

What are the symptoms?

Within two days, the infected person starts to experience a range of symptoms. Vomiting and diarrhea, nausea, cramps, muscle ache and fever are the most common. The disease can affect any age.

Severity varies with the patient’s immunity condition. For most people, the disease lasts just a couple of days. Very young children, elderly persons and persons with other diseases may be sick a few days more. The infection normally heals out completely without medical assistance. An infected person can be a carrier for up to two weeks, but is as most contageous while experiencing symptoms and another two days after healing.

Why in the winter?

The disease appears all through the year, but is most common from November to April. This season we spend mostly indoors, where the virus is more easily transmitted from person to person.

Treat the symptoms – stay hydrated

The Winter Vomiting Disease is fortunately self-eliminating. Simple supportive measures are sufficient care for most people.

Symptomatic treatment is the best course of action since antibacterials do not treat Norovirus. In a healthy individual, Calici virus resolves by itself in a couple of days.

It is very important that infected people stay well hydrated. If dehydrated, or if the person cannot maintain an adequate oral intake of fluids, intravenous fluids may be needed.

How do you best prevent getting sick or spreading the disease?

  • Clean and disinfect any surface that is in contact with the patient with proper disinfectants, especially after vomiting or diarrhea.
  • Wash hands more often and thoroughly than usual. Always after any toilet visit. Always before preparing meals. And always before eating.
  • Wash fruits and vegetables thoroughly before eating or preparing them.
  • Wash hands more frequently if an infected patient is in the house.
  • Avoid preparing meals if you are infected yourself!

How do you handle outbreaks in a care environment?

The Norovirus, being a non-enveloped virus, is quite difficult to eliminate. Most alcohol based hand products have little or no effect. Soap and water, and thorough mechanical cleaning of the hands especially, is therefore of high importance.

Cleaning routines of a high standard is also extremely important in order to get rid of Norovirus in the environment. Mechanical surface cleaning using efficient solutions for proper sanitation is of utmost importance. LifeClean’s products have proven very effective on Calici virus and many other viruses, and simultaneously eliminates bacteria and spores as well. Even at low concentration levels, the virus is completely eliminated.




For further information, please contact:

Dr. Samira Leilish
Chief Medical Officer