Noroviruses, sometimes referred to as “Norwalk Viruses” or “Norwalk-like Viruses” cause gastrointestinal illnesses and are often transmitted through contaminated food and water. Any food handler who are sick with norovirus is at risk of passing the virus onto customers. This not only applies to restaurants, but also those who handle the food during harvesting and packaging. Food can be contaminated either by direct contact with contaminated hands or work surfaces that are contaminated.
Is Norovirus Deadly?
Noroviruses are not usually life threatening and healthy adults should recover from it within a few days. Children, the elderly and those with weak immune systems may be particularly vulnerable, however. If your health has not improved within 48 hours, you should seek immediate medical attention. In the meantime, stay hydrated and replenish your electrolyte balance.
How Do You Know if You Have the Norovirus?
People often mistake the symptoms of noroviruses with “stomach flu”, as they are essentially the same: Vomiting, diarrhea, and stomach cramps. The only way to know for sure if you have norovirus is to have your blood or stool checked for antibodies. All too Often, unless there is a serious outbreak, norovirus goes undiagnosed.
How Do You Protect Yourself from Noroviruses?
Proper hygiene is essential to protecting yourself from the norovirus strains. Whether you handle food as a customer or as an employee, it is essential that you wash your hands before handling food. As a customer, avoid restaurants that do not look clean. As a food handler, it is important that you know how easily the virus can be transmitted, and how far the particles can travel. If someone in the restaurant or food packing facility becomes ill and vomits within about 20-feet of the food, particles can reach the food through the air.
For more information about Noroviruses, please see the following resources:
Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
Organized Wisdom Norovirus Health Tips
Virginia Department of Health Norovirus Info