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I got norovirus for Christmas. Trust me: You don’t want it.

Public Health Nurse Jeni Nybo
by Jeni Nybo01/03/2020 10:46 a.m.
Updated: 01/03/2020

Over the holidays, I got something I didn’t want.

No, it wasn’t an ugly sweater or a fruitcake. It was much worse.

I got a case of norovirus for Christmas. A festive holiday party turned not-so-festive when my husband and I became sick a few hours after we got home.

Norovirus is very common—and very contagious.

You probably only hear about norovirus when we report a large outbreak at a restaurant. But it’s very common, especially during the winter months, when people spend more time together indoors and in close quarters.

How common is norovirus? It’s so common, even somebody like me who works to prevent its spread can easily become infected. Most people contract it about 5 times in their lives.

So, like 20 million people in the U.S. each year, I was very sick for a couple days.

But because I knew the symptoms and what to do next, I didn’t spread it to anybody else.

Norovirus Infographic 2018

Keep norovirus at bay.

You don’t want to regift your norovirus! It spreads very easily. As few as 18 virus particles can make somebody sick. And norovirus can survive on surfaces like countertops for 2 weeks.

Thankfully, it’s not difficult to keep it to yourself if you’re careful. The secret is thorough cleaning and handwashing.

Start by cleaning vomit or diarrhea accidents immediately.

Step 1: Remove vomit or poop.

  • Pick up the chunks with paper towels or other disposable material.
  • Soak up liquids with absorbent materials. Use kitty litter or dry oatmeal for carpeted areas.
  • Double bag and discard.
  • Do not use a vacuum cleaner.

Step 2: Sanitize.

  • Disinfect hard surfaces using 1 2/3 cups of household bleach per gallon of water. Allow for 1 minute of contact time.
  • Sanitize all handles and knobs in your house with the bleach solution.
  • Linens (including clothing, towels, napkins): Wash separately in hot water and dry on high.
  • Steam clean carpets using the highest setting for heat.
  • Avoid cross-contamination (use separate sanitation cloths for bathroom and other surfaces).
  • Clean and disinfect all containers used (e.g., buckets).

When you wash your hands:

  • Wet your hands with warm water.
  • Apply plenty of soap.
  • Scrub your hands together for at least 20 seconds. Wash the front and back of your hands, between your fingers and under your nails. Scrubbing your hands together loosens germs and dirt and washes them away.
  • Rinse your hands with warm water.
  • Dry your hands with a paper towel.
  • Turn off the water with a paper towel.

You need to wash your hands often with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds. Do it especially after your clean, cook or use the restroom and before you eat.

It’s also important to make sure you know when your child is too sick to go to school. Follow these simple steps and help your friends, family and customers say no to noro! Learn more at www.tpchd.org/norovirus.

Public Health Nurse Jeni Nybo

by Jeni Nybo

Jeni tracks and follows up on diseases to help keep you safe.

 

We invite your comments but will delete those with profanity, personal attacks, derogatory statements, ads or promotional material. Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department does not provide personal medical advice; please contact your health care provider.