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Vomiting diarrhea from noroviruses: hygiene and hand washing protect against infection
Vomiting diarrhea, fever, headache: In the cold season, the noroviruses are on the rise again, also in North Rhine-Westphalia. For example, more and more gastrointestinal diseases are being diagnosed in the Paderborn district. But there are ways to protect yourself from infection.
High prevalence of norovirus infections
Over the course of the year, an unusually high spread of norovirus infections had been reported from various regions in Germany. These pathogens are also on the rise in parts of North Rhine-Westphalia. In December alone, 14 kindergartens in the Paderborn district reported cases of gastrointestinal infections attributable to the noroviruses, according to a statement. Experts explain how to protect yourself from infection.
Rise is typical of the season
Noroviruses were discovered in 1972. They are easily transmitted and are therefore responsible for a large part of the non-bacterial gastrointestinal infections in children and adults. The main season of the pathogens is in the cold winter months and usually lasts until March.
Infection with noroviruses usually hits people surprisingly quickly and violently. According to the Federal Center for Health Education (BZgA), the disease suddenly begins with violent diarrhea, nausea and gushing vomiting.
In addition, there is often a strong feeling of illness with muscle and abdominal pain, occasionally with a slight fever and headache.
"The severe vomiting diarrhea can quickly lead to a lack of fluid in the body, which can be manifested by a pronounced weakness or dizziness," writes the BZgA.
Most of the symptoms disappear completely after a day or two. There is no vaccine or medication. Only the symptoms can be treated. In some cases, infected people have to go to a clinic for treatment.
Protect against infection
As the head of the Paderborn district health office, Uwe Litwiakow, explained, "the admission capacities of hospitals for patients with suspected infection" have now "reached their limits".
In order to prevent infection with the dangerous noroviruses, certain hygiene measures should be observed.
Regular hand washing and disinfecting your hands, for example after shopping, using public transport or other contact with many people, can help to break the chain of infection.
Parents should take care not to bring sick children back to community facilities such as kindergartens or schools until the symptoms (diarrhea and vomiting) have not resolved for 48 hours.
"This is how other children and educators are best protected," said Litwiakow.
Viruses are excreted in the stool or vomit
Infected people excrete the viruses with the stool or the vomit. The stool can already contain noroviruses if there are no symptoms of illness. After the disease has subsided, it can still be infectious for one to two weeks.
It is also tricky: once excreted, the virus sticks to objects and surfaces for a very long time and can then get into the body via the “hand to mouth” route.
There should be no savings with the toilet paper during the illness. The paper looks like blotting paper and also absorbs the viruses. Because the main transmission path is then the hand.
Hands and palms should therefore be washed longer and more thoroughly than usual after using the toilet. Especially in the acute phase, it is better not to use soap bars but liquid soap in soap dispensers.
In addition, you should get a hand disinfectant from a pharmacy that also kills viruses, writes the district of Paderborn.
Such a solution is distributed and rubbed onto the hands after washing and drying. Every family member and especially the sick person should use their own towel, which should be changed daily.
Clean the toilet daily
The toilet should be cleaned several times a day in the acute vomiting and diarrhea phase. In the two weeks after that it doesn't have to be that often.
"Critical" areas in the bathroom such as door handles and fittings must also be cleaned thoroughly. Special disinfectants are not necessary in the home. Rubber gloves should be worn when cleaning and the cleaning cloths should be changed more frequently.
In the acute phase, disposable wipes are recommended due to the high number of viruses. Dishes can be cleaned in the dishwasher as usual and therefore also in the dishwasher. Linen and towels should be washed with a detergent at a minimum of 60 degrees.
Many diseases are never officially recorded
To date, 171 confirmed cases of norovirus infections have been officially reported to the Paderborn district health office (as of December 11). However, the number of unreported cases is likely to be significantly higher.
Because the statistics only show those cases in which a laboratory certificate was also carried out. Family doctors, and occasionally hospitals, especially in the case of waves of disease, often do without it, since viruses can only treat the symptoms anyway.
In addition, there are gastrointestinal diseases in private households (“is gastrointestinal”), which are also attributed to noroviruses, but are never officially recorded. (ad)