Another Tangle with Norovirus

I hate norovirus. This entity, which seems to seek me and my sweet type-O blood out, has infected me again.  I'm not in anyway unusual, this virus causes 20% of gastroenteritis cases

As someone who has had norovirus a few times, I've been able to recognize the tell-tale warning signs that something explosive is about to come. First, I usually have a sense that my stomach is not emptying fully. This is the result of the virus' action to ensure it has enough projectiles to hitch itself onto to make its way to another host. Next, hyper-salivation. Then, the run to the bathroom to vomit violently--this often just starts like a flick of the switch. Chills and muscle aches and pains usually follow.

Today, I was ready (or so I thought). As soon as I felt that delayed emptying sensation, I took an anti-emetic medication. However, it was too little too late. Though, it has kept the vomiting at bay for now.

Norovirus is so successful because of its contagiousness--when someone vomits they are a super spreader whose vomitus remains infectious. Additionally, the virus is resistant to standard cleaning agents (e.g. alcohol), making clean up challenging. 

I wish there was a vaccine.


The Creature from Norwalk Ohio

Today CNN is reporting an outbreak of norovirus on a Royal Caribbean cruise ship. Thus far, 66 individuals have been infected.  

This virus, named for the city in which it was first discovered (Norwalk, OH), is the most common cause of acute gastroenteritis, colloquially known as "stomach flu", in the US, where it causes over 20 million infections annually.

Norovirus outbreaks on cruise ships (and in other locales, including national parks) are nothing new but pose huge societal problems because of the disruptions that ensue upon their arrival. When norovirus strikes--this, I know from personal experience--24 hours of so of one's life are going to be spent in the bathroom. 

While the diarrhea is bad, it is the violent vomiting--which often seizes one suddenly--that, to me, is the worst aspect of this dreaded disease. The vomitus (what is vomited up) is highly infectious and hand washing with alcohol-based substances alone may not be enough to deactivate the virus.

There are no vaccines or anti-viral treatments for norovirus, though anti-nausea medications (e.g. Zofran) can be lifesavers. 

Too bad there isn't a special "vomit powder", similar to what the maintenance staff would sprinkle on our vomit in school, for this despised virus.