Noroviruses: vomiting diarrhea spreads rapidly - this is how protection works

Vomiting diarrhea: how to protect yourself from noroviruses
Numerous gastrointestinal infections with vomiting diarrhea have been registered nationwide in recent weeks. They were triggered by noroviruses. The highly contagious pathogens can still be dangerous after days. But there are ways to protect yourself from infection.

Noroviruses spread
An unusually high spread of norovirus infections has been found in various regions of Germany in recent weeks. Among others in Lower Saxony, Bavaria and in the east of the republic. The gastrointestinal infections cause severe symptoms such as diarrhea and vomiting. In view of the rapid spread of the norovirus, experts are increasingly pointing out protective measures.

Infection strikes people surprisingly quickly
Infection with noroviruses usually hits people surprisingly quickly and violently. According to the Federal Center for Health Education (BZgA), the disease suddenly begins with violent diarrhea, nausea and gushing vomiting.

In addition, there is often a strong feeling of illness with muscle and abdominal pain, occasionally with a slight fever and headache.

"The severe vomiting diarrhea can quickly lead to a lack of fluid in the body, which can be manifested by a pronounced weakness or dizziness," writes the BZgA. Most of the symptoms disappear completely after a day or two.

Eliminated viruses are contagious even after the symptoms have subsided
According to the experts, the disease usually breaks out quickly after infection, usually between six hours and two to a maximum of three days. Those affected are highly contagious when the symptoms appear.

Especially in the first two days, many pathogens are eliminated with the stool. But even up to two weeks or in some cases even longer, sick people can secrete the virus and still be contagious, even if vomiting and diarrhea have already subsided.

Therefore, not only the sick, but also those who no longer experience symptoms should initially keep their distance from other people.

Germs are transmitted via smear infection
In most cases, noroviruses are transmitted from person to person via a smear infection. The pathogens are carried on the hands in minute traces of stool remnants or vomit by the sick, including on door handles and other objects. The viruses can easily get into your mouth by hand.

Due to the high infectiousness, the diseases are mostly found in community facilities such as kindergartens, schools, old people's and nursing homes and hospitals. The winter months from October to March are the main period for noroviruses.

According to the Robert Koch Institute (RKI), ten to 100 particles are sufficient for infection.

How to protect yourself
In order to prevent infection with the dangerous noroviruses, particular care must be taken to ensure proper hygiene. The best protection against infection is hand washing.

"This applies both to those who are sick so that they do not spread the virus, and to everyone else so that they do not become infected," writes the Department for Health and the Environment (RGU) of the City of Munich. The Bavarian capital was recently hit by a strong wave of illnesses caused by noroviruses.

Each towel should only be used by one person. In addition, surfaces in the household should be cleaned regularly and the cleaning cloths used should only be used once if possible. Sick people should not prepare food for others.

Sick people should stay at home
Infected people should avoid crowds of people, stay at home and cure the disease. It is also very important to drink a lot to compensate for the loss of fluid in the case of vomiting diarrhea. There are no drugs to treat the viral infection. Antibiotics only work against bacteria and are completely ineffective against noroviruses.

Lemon juice also offers protection against infections. This works well against noroviruses, the German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ) reported. (ad)

Author and source information

Video: Virology Lectures 2019 #16: Acute Infections (January 2022).