By MultiCare Health System
If you or a family member has had norovirus, you know it isn’t pretty. Commonly labeled the stomach flu or winter illness, norovirus is an inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract that causes nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, body aches and more. It’s also highly contagious and easily transmitted and can level an entire household before you know it.
Norovirus is a stubborn bug that can survive on surfaces for days, and there’s no vaccine to protect against it. But there are ways to help keep the bug at bay. Follow these five tips to prevent the spread of norovirus and other illnesses in your home:
1. Wash your hands. Frequent handwashing is the best step you can take to stay healthy, and it’s the number one way to protect against norovirus. Just make sure you and your family members wash the right way.
• Wet hands with clean, warm water.
• Using antibacterial soap, lather palms, backs of hands, between fingers and under nails. Scrub for at least 20 seconds. (Try singing the happy birthday song twice through.)
• Rinse hands well under warm, running water.
• Dry hands on a clean towel.
2. Handle and prepare food safely. You know that thing about hand washing? It’s really important in the kitchen, especially when handling raw foods. Properly sanitize the surfaces you’re working on before you begin food prep, and be sure to clean the area well once you’re done. If you’re feeling crummy or experiencing symptoms, stay out of the kitchen to keep from spreading the virus to others.
3. Clean the right way. Someone infected with norovirus may not show symptoms for several days, so it’s nearly impossible to keep virus germs out of your house. But you can try to tackle them once they’ve arrived. Take special care to disinfect surfaces that are touched often, such as doorknobs, remote controls and countertops.
4. Avoid contact with infection. Norovirus is transmitted from person to person and contaminated foods. When sharing close quarters, the virus can spread quickly if someone’s infected. If you can, avoid direct contact with anyone exhibiting symptoms.
5. Seek proper medical care. One of the most important things you can do for your physical health is to get proper medical care when you need it. For starters, visit your doctor for recommended physicals and stay up to date on your flu vaccine. And if a medical emergency arises, make sure you’re aware of your closest urgent care location.
MultiCare Health System is a not-for-profit health care organization with more than 18,000 employees, providers and volunteers.