Norovirus Nightmare: What You Need to Know to Avoid the “Winter Woes”

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Brace yourselves, folks! Norovirus, that notorious stomach bug often mistaken for the “stomach flu” (though it’s not related to influenza!), is making its rounds in the Northeast at the highest rates since last spring.

Data from the CDC paints a picture of increased activity, with over 13% of norovirus tests coming back positive in the region since late January. That’s higher than anywhere else in the U.S. right now, but still lower than the Northeast saw at this time last year. Phew!


Remember, norovirus is like the Grinch of winter, thriving in the colder months (think late fall, winter, and early spring). Nationwide, positive test rates have been hovering between 10% and 12.5% since the start of the year, and while not alarming, it’s a good reminder to be vigilant.

The Western states are feeling the second-biggest pinch, with a three-week positivity rate of 12% as of last Saturday. So, whether you’re in the Northeast or out West, keep your guard up!

Now, let’s talk about what this nasty virus actually does. Norovirus is super contagious and causes some, shall we say, unpleasant gastrointestinal symptoms: vomiting, nausea, diarrhea, and stomach pain (not exactly a picnic!). It can also throw in some mild fever and aches for good measure.

Your Ultimate Guide to Norovirus Prevention

The scary part? Just a few tiny particles are enough to make someone sick, and people with the illness shed billions of these virus particles in their, well, let’s just say “waste products.” Plus, the virus can hang around on surfaces for days, even weeks. Gross, right?


But wait, there’s more! An infected person can spread the virus even after they feel better, sometimes for up to two weeks. So, washing your hands frequently and avoiding close contact with anyone feeling under the weather is crucial.

And don’t forget about food! Norovirus can contaminate fruits, vegetables, and even oysters, earning its “food poisoning” nickname. So, be cautious when handling food, wash everything thoroughly, and follow any FDA advisories (like the current one on oysters from certain Mexican regions).

While norovirus outbreaks are most common between November and April, with around 20 million cases happening in the U.S. each year, there’s no need to panic. There’s no specific treatment, but staying hydrated is key. The good news? The illness usually passes within days.

So, remember: wash those hands, practice good hygiene, and be mindful of what you eat. With a little vigilance, we can weather this wintery bug and keep our stomachs (and loved ones!) happy and healthy.

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