Norovirus Stomach Flu

After spending a weekend in bed with self diagnosed Norovirus,  I thought the information would make a great post. Norovirus is a contagious virus that causes sudden onset of nausea, vomiting, headache, body ache and feeling very very sick.  It strikes 12-48 hours after exposure, either by ingesting contaminated food or water or close contact with someone who has the virus.  When you hear of a cruise ship being struck by illness or nursing homes or child care facilities...the culprit is usually Norovirus.  I have no idea where I caught it. It wasn't a patient and I seldom catch anything from patients. No one else in my family was sick. I hadn't eaten out so the source will remain a mystery.

I can tell you from personal experience that like most viruses, this one starts with body aches, headache and malaise. That viral feeling is followed by vomiting and abdominal cramping. You just feel knocked out. No reading, no blogging, nothing but misery.

Like any gastroenteritis the biggest health danger is dehydration. If a patient can replace fluid by drinking water, he will be fine. Small children or debilitated people are at most risk. The average person like me just gets over it.

The good news about Norovirus is that it only lasts about 24-48 hours. Just long enough to ruin a beautiful weekend with lots of activities planned including playing a tennis tournament and a fancy gala fundraiser for Make a Wish Foundation.

What did I do?  Complained a lot.  Washed my hands scrupulously and used bleach on surfaces to clean.  Drank water followed by juice and finally ate wah wah ton soup (my sickness comfort food).  Now I'm ready for work on Monday.


abnormalfacies said…
I'm sorry to hear that!

Your post caught my eye because of that picture - I remember the first time I saw it in a microbiology lecture. It certainly sends a strong message :)
KathleenMD said…
Glad you're feeling better.

I hope your post helps some people to realize that they don't need to rush to the doctor as soon as they vomit once or twice or feel malaise. I can't tell you how many people I've seen in the ER who want me to "fix it" before it's hardly even started. It may be "just" a virus - but viruses can sure make you feel awful. It takes time for the body to heal itself and drugs won't help.
DrPaula said…
Hope you feel better.
Pet Beds said…
I remember the first time I saw it in a microbiology lecture. It certainly sends a strong message.
Jonathan said…
Amazing. This weekend my wife was so ill with GI distress that she fainted on the bathroom floor. That was on Saturday morning at 4 AM. On Monday morning she went back to work. A rotovirus as well? We substituted nabeyaki udon for won ton soup. I'm glad you've both recovered so quickly.
Anonymous said…
I lay here in utter pain with crackers and warm coke. The 102 fever, constant bathroom visits, internal battle to not vomit and pure misery reflects what you endured. I have to thank the 8yo nephew for this unwanted gift. He was fighting this Thursday eve thru yesterday! We thought he was better Sunday for church. Boy we were wrong! The local subway experienced his illness Sunday afternoon then I suddenly was ill this out of nowhere! There are 4 children inour home, their parents, aunty here, cancer recoverying grandparent and wife. This is NOT good. Ugh.
M C said…
It's in in our household now. First me and my son last week, then now my mom (who got so dehydrated she was in ER last night), and now, my son has vomitted again. It seems we're in a vicious cycle... I'm going to bleach everywhere as soon as I get home... *sigh*
r4 ds said…
Noroviruses, also known as Norwalk-like viruses that cause the stomach flu.We have to take some extra care for it.
This the season to injury noroviros, more commonly known as the winter vomiting bug. Although called "stomach flu" is unrelated to influenza.You shared such a nice tips for the preventing it.
Yvonne Abdullah said…
Dear Ms. Brayer,

Hi my name is Yvonne Abdullah. I am glad that you are feeling much better. However, I am not. I ate at a restaurant and became violently ill. It was confirmed that I had contracted Norovirus. And seeing as that you are obviously more knowledgeable than I am. I would like to enlist your help if I may. I have read some articles about your kindness and generosity and how you are with your patients. It made me feel that I could reach out to you to as well. I was wondering if you might know where I can go to have the wrapper and box in which my food from the restaurant came in for laboratory testing to confirm that it is where the Norovirus came from. I would be very appreciative if you would let me know seeing that time is of the essence in a situation like this. Thank you. Have a blessed day. Sincerely, Yvonne Abdullah My contact information is as follows:,,, and at (650) 290-3887
Toni Brayer, MD said…
Ms. Abdullah:
I am sorry for your illness. Norovirus is so common and found in so many foods, people, food handlers and surfaces that I don't think testing will be useful for you. I do not know where you can have it tested. The Center for Disease Control tracks outbreaks of norovirus and has testing laboratories and you might call your local health department and see if there was an outbreak in your area and/or with the restaurant. Good luck to you going forward and stay healthy in 2013!

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