Norovirus in York Region
Norovirus Outbreak: what you need to know
If you have kids and live in York Region, you would have heard about the Norovirus outbreak. Currently a number of schools in York Region are affected. Norovirus may already sound familiar to you because this infamous group of virus is the number one viral cause of digestive tract infection (nausea, vomiting, diarrhea), often spreading successfully on cruise ships, in schools, senior residences, and other populated enclosed spaces.
So how do you prevent getting sick with the Norovirus?
It may be more difficult than you think. Norovirus may originate from fruits, vegetables, or oyster contaminated at the source of harvest. Then it is spread via objects and persons that come into contact with infected saliva and fecal matter. It is highly contagious, and only takes 18 viral particles to get you really sick. This means a quick hand washing will likely not get rid of the viral particles entirely. Norovirus is also resistant to heat up to 140 degrees Fahrenheit, so thorough cooking is necessary to ensure safety of food. Like most infectious viruses, a person may spread the virus before he/she start to show any symptoms. That person may remain infectious weeks after they feel better.
Now a little bit of good news.
Norovirus is self limiting. Most people are only sick for 1-3 days, making a full recovery after the unpleasant episode. It is important to monitor seniors and young children for signs of dehydration, however. Some individual also appears to be genetically resistant to the virus. Perhaps up to 30% of the population does not gets ill from coming into contact with the Norovirus.
What would your Naturopathic Doctor do?
If you are among the unfortunate 70%, and experiencing the digestive symptoms, make sure you are drinking plenty of fluid in the form of water and clear broth (fat completely removed). You can also do a simple homemade electrolyte drink using juice of ½ lemon, 500 ml water, 1 pinch of salt, 1 pinch of baking soda, and 1 tsp of pasteurized maple syrup/honey. Avoid commercial electrolytes that are too rich in sugar and food colouring. Foods that are safe include root vegetable steamed or baked without oil, white rice and other low fiber grain, steamed vegetable and fruit, and fresh banana. You will want avoid foods which stimulate bowel movement such as oil, nuts/seeds, high fiber granola, and hot spices. Even though the digestive upset is caused by a virus, a healthy dose of probiotic is still a good idea to help restore normal gut flora. Digestive enzyme may be necessary for awhile, as would gut healing nutrients such as licorice or L-glutamine. Still not sure what to do? Your naturopathic doctor would be happy to do a quick phone consultation if you require specific assistance.