As norovirus cases rise in CA, doctors pinpoint 2 things you should not do if you get it

ByDenise Dador KABC logo
Thursday, February 29, 2024
Have norovirus? Doctors advise against these 2 things
Norovirus symptoms like nausea, vomiting, diarrhea are painful. As cases rise in California, here's what doctors say you should avoid if you have it.

LOS ANGELES -- While the Northeast is getting hit the hardest, CDC officials say cases of norovirus, often called the "stomach flu," continue to climb in California. It can spread quickly in enclosed spaces like schools, workplaces and cruise ships.

Nausea, vomiting and diarrhea - these norovirus symptoms can be painful. Earlier this month, over 150 people were stricken while on a cruise ship that docked in San Francisco. Once someone gets it, doctors describe just how quickly it can spread

"With norovirus, it's sort of like wildfire," said infectious disease specialist Dr. Daisy Dodd with Kaiser Permanente Orange County.

Contaminated food may be the most common way norovirus spreads, but she said it can also move quickly from person to person.

"The means of spread is what we call fecal oral. So from your tushy to your mouth," Dodd said.

The virus can live on surfaces for weeks. The CDC says on the West Coast, nearly 13% of tests came back positive for norovirus. Annually, about 900 people die from this gastro-intestinal infection. The elderly, the immunocompromised and the very young are the most vulnerable.

"Children, if they get it, they can get dehydrated and very easily. The elderly can do the same thing. So hydration becomes the key to proper treatment," she said.

There is no vaccine. And If you get sick, doctors say avoid anti-diarrheal medications.

"You're going to prolong the agony because the virus is going to stay within you. And obviously the longer it stays within you, the more problems you're going to have," said Dodd.

She added - don't rely on hand sanitizers. They're not the most effective at killing norovirus. The best way to neutralize this bug is with soap.

"There's something to do with soap breaking the cell of the germs and killing them. So that's actually the best thing you know - wash your hands often," she said.

Other tips from Dodd include sanitizing your cellphones and door handles. Wash your produce. Cook shellfish thoroughly. Stay home for about two or three days after you start feeling better, because you can still be shedding the virus.