Share on PinterestInstances of norovirus — a prevalent and infectious virus that induces vomiting and diarrhea — have been on the rise in the United States. Maskot/Getty Images
- In the early part of 2023, the CDC declared that more individuals were contracting the norovirus, commonly referred to as the stomach bug.
- Every year, it is approximated that norovirus causes between 19 and 21 million overall incidents throughout the United States.
- It also leads to almost 500,000 hospital visits and roughly 900 fatalities – mainly among adults over the age of 65.
Norovirus — a prevalent and infectious virus that induces vomiting and diarrhea — is on the rise throughout the United States. Norovirus is commonly referred to as a stomach virus.
Recent data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has indicated that over 15% of norovirus tests are returning positive results. This is the highest rate of positivity since March 2022.
Every year, it is approximated that this virus causes between 19 and 21 million overall incidents throughout the United States, almost 500,000 hospital visits, and roughly 900 fatalities – mainly among adults over the age of 65.
Norovirus is an illness that typically exhibits wintertime seasonality with a spike usually occurring around February.
While current data suggests that we are currently within the seasonal range, the CDC reports that this indicates an increase compared to previous years.
While each virus has varying transmission capabilities, norovirus is a highly transmissible infection. According to the CDC, each infected person sheds billions of viral particles.
While billions of viral particles are being shared by everyone who has it, Schaffner stated that “only one viral particle is needed to infect another person.”
He further explains that once one person in a household or family has this condition, it is nearly inevitable that everyone else will also contract it.
This is a virus that is not only transmitted through respiratory pathways but also through environmental pathways.
“The primary method to prevent transmission of this virus is to practice proper hand hygiene: wash your hands after using the restroom, before eating or preparing food, and when they are visibly dirty,” Lee told Healthline.
If you are around a sick family member or caring for someone, wiping down shared surfaces can also help reduce transmission of this virus within a household.
Lee explains that hand sanitizer, which is typically alcohol-based, can prevent illness from many viruses, but it may not be as effective against norovirus. She advises that the best way to wash your hands is with “soap and water for at least 20 seconds.”
While this virus tends to be short-lived, treatment typically focuses on symptomatic care.
“Ensure you stay hydrated — especially with clear fluids or those with a slight carbonation,” explained Schaffner.
Although experiencing norovirus symptoms can be uncomfortable, they usually have a short duration and many people recover within a few days using over-the-counter medications.
Hydration is one of the most crucial steps you can take to prevent dehydration — the most significant complication of this illness.