Stomach flu – really a nasty version officially called Norovirus – is seeing an upsurge in reported cases in many parts of the US.
The CDC defines the Norovirus as a strain of virus which affects the gastrointestinal tract of humans.
The most common symptoms include nausea, vomiting, stomach pain and diarrhea — usually with a sudden onset. Some people may also have a fever.
Norovirus is highly contagious, especially among the elderly and children. Anyone can contract the virus, though, especially in areas where people come together such as senior living or healthcare facilities.
The virus generally makes seniors ill for about 2-3 days. In seniors, the biggest problem can be dehydration due to prolonged vomiting and diarrhea.
- Norovirus is highly contagious, spread by eating contaminated food or touching a contaminated surface then putting your hand in your mouth
- Direct contact with an infectious person or their vomit or diarrhea will spread the virus
- The most important way to prevent the spread is to wash hands frequently with soap and water, especially when caring for an ill person and whenever handling food
- Use a hand sanitizer with a minimum of 62% ethanol, although this doesn’t substitute for soap and water
- Use a bleach-based household cleaning solution to disinfect all contaminated surfaces in your senior loved one’s home; be sure to include frequent touch spots like light switches, remote controls and phones
- Also use for disinfecting: water with household bleach added according to label directions
- Immediately clean any soiled clothing or linen in the washing machine; use the longest cycle with detergent and hot water; machine dry
- Be sure your senior drinks plenty of liquids to re-hydrate: water, juice, sport drinks
- Eat a healthy diet with sources of antioxidants to boost your senior’s immune system (and yours)
- Don’t share hand towels with an infected person
- Don’t visit while you are ill or accept visitors – it is best to remain isolated, especially from others susceptible to illness, until the symptoms are gone
If your senior loved one is exposed it will be best to practice good hygiene and thorough cleaning procedures while waiting for the virus to run its course. If your senior appears to be having difficulty with dehydration or recovering in about 3 days, contact your physician.
Hopefully our tips can help you and your loved ones avoid Norovirus, but if not then get rid of it as soon as possible – and keep it from spreading.
We wish you and your senior loved ones good health!