Novovirus Outbreak in Kerala: At least 19 student of a school in Kakkanad in Kerala’s Ernakulam have reportedly tested positive for norovirus. According to media reports, some of the parents have also been infected with norovirus.
Meanwhile, after the cases came to light, online classes have been introduced for students from Class 1 to Class 5.
On Monday, district health authorities found that nearly 62 children and a few parents had earlier exhibited symptoms of Norovirus infection.
According to reports, three students are under medical treatment and their condition is said to be stable. Reportedly, the virus was detected in the stool samples of the two children that were sent to the State Public Health Laboratory in Thiruvananthapuram.
After Norovirus cases were reported, an official communication by the District Medical Officer stated that the classrooms have been disinfected.
“Water samples had been collected and sent for detailed analysis. Control measures, including chlorination, have been initiated. Those showing symptoms should continue under observation. Care should be taken to ensure that the drinking water sources are clean and free of contamination,” it stated.
Amid fear among public, state health officials maintained that Norovirus outbreaks are rarely serious, however it can spread fast if proper precautions are not taken.
“There has been a reported outbreak of Norovirus infection in Kerala , where students and some of their parents are also symptomatic. Preventive measures need to be promptly and aptly taken to control the outbreak at an early stage,” Dr. Monalisa Sahu, Consultant Infectious Diseases, Yashoda Hospitals Hyderabad told Financial Express.com.
What is Norovirus?
According to Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Norovirus is an extremely contagious virus that causes vomiting and diarrhea. The health experts maintain that anyone can get infected and sick with norovirus.
Usually, the virus can be contracted through direct contact with an infected person, consuming contaminated food or water and touching contaminated surfaces and then putting unwashed hands in mouth.
Norovirus is sometimes called the stomach flu or stomach bug. However, norovirus illness is not related to the flu which is caused by influenza virus.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the number of cases of norovirus infection are amounting to as high as estimated 685 million cases annually, of which 200 million cases amongst children under 5. An estimated 200,000 deaths per year, has been attributed to the norovirus disease across the world, mostly in the low-income countries.
What Are The Causes and Symptoms of Norovirus?
Norovirus is the most common cause of vomiting and diarrhea, and foodborne illness. The most common symptoms of norovirus are:
- Stomach Pain
Norovirus causes inflammation of the stomach or intestines. This is called acute gastroenteritis. A person usually develops symptoms 12 to 48 hours after being exposed to norovirus. Most people with norovirus illness get better within 1 to 3 days.
According to CDC, norovirus can lead to vomiting and having Diarrhea multiple time a day which can lead to dehydration.
“The oral-faecal route is the most common route of transmission of this virus. The virus is well known for causing large outbreaks of gastroenteritis. It has been linked to mostly outbreaks of gastroenteritis in cruise ships, dormitories, nursing homes and prisons,” Dr. Sahu told Financial Express.com.
Symptoms of dehydration include:
- Decrease in urination
- Dry mouth and throat
- Feeling dizzy when standing up
- Children who are dehydrated may cry with few or no tears and be unusually sleepy or fussy, as per CDC.
Treatment for Norovirus Infection
According to CDC, as Norovirus leads to dehydration, the infected person should drink plenty of liquids to replace fluid lost from vomiting and diarrhea.
In case of severe dehydration, may require hospitalisation for treatment with fluids given through your vein (intravenous or IV fluids).
How to Prevent Norovirus Infection?
According to Dr. Sahu, the virus is a hardy virus, being resistant to many disinfectants, and temperatures as high as 60F. Thorough handwashing with soap and water before consumption of food, before cooking, after using restroom and caring for likely infected people can adequately control the spread. “5000 parts per million of hypochlorite solution for cleaning contaminated surfaces is the ideal disinfectant for killing the virus. Avoidance of contact with others during the symptoms and for 2 days after the symptoms get better is essential to break the chain of the disease,” She told Financial Express.com.
Things To Keep In Mind:
- Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water after using the toilet or changing diapers, before eating, preparing, or handling food and before giving yourself or someone else medicine.
- Hand sanitizer does not work well against norovirus. So, handwashing is always best.
- People who are sick should not prepare or handle food.
- After someone vomits or has diarrhea, always thoroughly clean and disinfect the entire area immediately.
- Immediately remove and wash clothes or linens that may be soiled with vomit or feces.