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Thursday
Jan062011

The Stomach Virus lives on. And on. And on.

This is a story about a little bug named Noro. Norovirus. Norwalk. He's got a bunch of cute little nicknames. This is a story about how he lives on - a month later - and how he continues to haunt those around him. This post is nothing short of a PSA because everyone should know about this, especially if you have kids.

My 6-year old nephew, who lives on the clear opposite side of the country, contracted it from a schoolmate in mid-December. Now, almost a month later, after rippling through (almost) my entire family at Christmas-time and having jumped to the opposite side of the country, it lives on. No thanks to us.

This is the 3rd time this scenario has striken us while on trips with children, so I have become a little obsessed. Sue me.

Here is what I found in my research:

Norovirus is the MOST CONTAGIOUS VIRUS IN THE WORLD. Listen here: it LIVES on and remains contagious for a week OR MORE after the afflicted person is feeling better. Did you hear that? A week or more. The younger the person, the longer they stay contagious. And I'm here to tell you, after getting a call from my dear nanny this morning who just contracted it, it is NO joke. I feel awful about infecting her. I wouldn't wish this on my worst enemy.

According to this New York Times article:

Norovirus is a beast of a virus. It is extremely hardy in the environment — it can remain infective up to 7 days in the open on household surfaces, and has been shown to be infective up to TEN days on refrigerated ready-to-eat foods like deli meats and vegetables. (cit: Applied and Environmental Microbiology, June 2008, p. 3349-3355).

It also has a very low infective dose. Only a few hundred virus particles (practically a speck of dust) are necessary to give you the worst 48 hours of your life.

The virus aerosolizes; it is ejected from your body forcefully via diarrhea and vomiting. You can catch it simply by smelling the puke (or poop).

So in short: noro is forcefully propelled into our environments by the sick, and the virus particles persist for many days in the open, where we all have the chance to pick it up and take it home.

Is that enough to make you a hypochondriac? Me too.

Another commenter jokingly said:

My microbiology professor always said you could tell it was norovirus if the patient was afraid he might live.

Today is Janary 6th. Lucie had been well for 9 full days before I let our sitter watch her. I was still paranoid. I told her, do not change her diapers just as a precaution, her poop could still be infectious. She looked at me like I was crazy. Hell, it felt crazy saying it. She assured me she takes vitamins and never gets sick, blah blah blah.

Well.... approximately 30 hours later, which is about the median time of illness after exposure, she's got it. Great. And she's a nanny. Her JOB is to take care of kids. But now for her not to spread it, she'll have to be out of commission for several days. Good job, me. Way to go. I win the jackass award.

Do you know the only way to kill this virus? Bleach. Frickin' BLEACH. Not even Purell will kill this thing. Well great, you can bleach your bathroom surfaces, but what about the carpet? Or the changing pad? Or any clothes that may have come into contact with it?? Herein lies the problem.

SO. If you or your child are sick with this thing, please take note. It is your civic responsibility to quarantine yourself, which is REALLY hard I know. I mean, people have to work and kids need caretaking right? There is no good solution. 

I swore to myself this will never happen again. But it will, I am sure of it. 

They are in the process of creating a vaccine, but as the article stated, it still has several more years before becoming available. Please hurry up!!!

 

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