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Norovirus attacks the Lloydies without mercy


Over the last few days all four of us have come down with Gastroenteritis (Gastric Flu, Winter Vomiting Sickness or call it what you will.)

First Contact

Julia suddenly vomited during Saturday night for no apparent reason. It was the first time I remember her being sick since I swung her around a bit too energetically as a toddler…

At the time, I instantly thought NORO! (which is what all the Norovirus caused illnesses are colloquially called here in Japan) because of the suddenness and lack of preceding lethargy, whining, mardiness.

But she made a complete recovery in about 24 hours, which is usually not the case for such a powerful viral attack. Also, given the incredible “Boogey Man” image that Noro has been given here in the press, one expects to immediately, clearly and without doubt know if one has the virus, like coming home to find your house burgled.

However, we convinced ourselves that it was nothing, and so did Julia.

Symptoms

I’m talking purely from personal experience here you your milage may vary.

I’d worked an eleven hour day and had had a chirpy and cheerful conversation at the end of it with my boss and until that point had felt nothing untoward at all.

I had been alert, able to concentrate and perform my work as usual.

I was travelling home on the train from work at about 10.30 at night with a small can of beer when I first felt a bit odd. The first sign was heartburn and a slight uncomfortable feeling, like being too full.

At first I suspected the sushi I’d eaten at work that afternoon had been dodgy. Although it would have been the first time I’d ever got ill from Japanese food. 

I started feeling a bit tired as a walked back home from the station. I just assumed it was probably because I was tired. It had been a hell of a long week…

Getting home, I managed three sets of exercises, but felt a little nauseated at the end of the third set and decided to cut short my second routine.

Thinking a nice shower would do me good I had one.

Then it hit me. It felt as if my abdomen was expanding, inflating. I started feeling fuller and fuller and more uncomfortable, like I’d drank a litre of soda in one go and then jumped up and down.

That was it; time to make the long distance call on the white china telephone.

It was 11:30.

From the first inklings of anything being amiss to  being on my hands and knees in front of the Toto (cf. Armitage Shanks) was less than an hour.

Ten minutes later, I felt right as rain and went to bed as usual.

The next day, however, I had the usual symptoms of flu. A minor fever, lack of appetite, aches and pains, lethargy and a strange, completely uncharacteristic disdain for all housework!

This lasted for two days.

On the third day (today), I’m feeling about 90% again.

A day after me, Tomoko caught it and a day later, our youngest, Hana caught it; although the children seemed much less affected than we were.

Norovirus: Things to remember.

DON’T PANIC!

  • Despite the huge media presence making it sound like the new Ebola, it is not a major life threatening disease, unless you are currently in a precariously weakened state. (Newborns should be referred to a clinic straight away, regardless.)
  • The main danger posed is through dehydration caused by vomiting and diarrhoea, which can be combatted through intake of regular, small volumes of liquid. 

Contagion

IT IS INCREDIBLY CONTAGIOUS!

  • If you have it, don’t go out. Stay indoors, call in sick, keep your children at home. Unless you and your entire family suffer from a cleanliness related OCD, you will all come down with it in short order, so keep your children out of school.
  • It can be passed on through children’s soiled nappies (diapers) and is especially easily transmitted through vomit.
  • Incubation is short and contraction to full-blown sickness can be less than two days.
  • The virus is hardy and can survive for days in the environment.
  • Regular 60 degree hot wash is insufficient for complete disinfection. Use a hot, 85 degrees or hotter dishwasher (or chlorine based cleansers) to clean kitchen utensils and surfaces which may have been contaminated.
  • It is not killed by alcohol or regular detergents. Clean all soiled linen and clothes with a mild solution of “traditional” chlorine, (not biological, enzyme or oxygen) based bleach.
  • Note: Vomit soiled blankets, bedsheets and carpets can give rise to airborne transmission for an extended period once dry, if not cleaned with steam or chlorine.
  • Do not prepare or handle food for others.
  • Practice a good hygiene regimen of hand cleaning and regular replacement of towels, etc. to minimise traces.

 

Treatment

  • Stay at home, drink lots of liquids. Hydration is the one and only concern.
  • It’s a virus with no known cure or directly effective treatment. Just let it run its course and all will be well in two to three days.
  • Again, it’s a virus, don’t let your doctor pump you up with pointless antibiotics unless you have a special need.
  • Symptoms including nausea and aches and pains can be tackled with regular stomach preparations and paracetamol. (Although headache tablets such as Aspirin can exacerbate poor stomach conditions.)

 

Usual Disclaimer

Without wanting to sound condescending or trite, this is a blog, not a medical journal.

Being well informed by reading accurate, reliable, recognised sources of information is perhaps one of the best health precautions one can take, so please use this information only as a starting point for making an informed and educated decision, rather than as a complete guide, and if in doubt, contact your GP.

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  1. Amanda
    December 22, 2008 at 10:42 am

    We had that last January. In fact, Ailin was in hospital for a whole week. No antibiotics or meds, just an IV drip until she got fully rehydrated again. Of course, both my husband and I got it too. I was in the hospital waiting room making a quick phone call when I suddenly spewed all over the floor. It was a nightmare. They wouldn’t allow Ailin to nurse until they were sure her puking and diarrhea were over with, and that was miserable for both us too. Anyway, since that experience, I tend not to panic when she pukes several times. I know it will pass, but I didn’t realize all that stuff about steam cleaning everything. Wow! I’ll be more vigilent from now on!

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