Thursday, January 19, 2012


A friend recently told me that both she and her husband had become ill after attending a wedding. "A really bad case of the stomach flu," she said. "We are still on antibiotics."

That "stomach flu" was most likely food poisoning caused by a virus called "Norovirus" that was somewhere in the food served at the wedding reception. And no, those antibiotics are not going to help. Most basically healthy people will recover on their own in a few days.

Noroviruses are responsible for about half of all reported outbreaks of gastroenteritis (vomiting, diarrhea, and stomach cramping caused by inflammation of the stomach and intestines) in the U.S. Over 80% of these illnesses occur between November and April - right now.

The virus is often spread through food, but can also be caught from your drinking water, by touching things that have the virus on them, and directly from person to person. Almost half of all cases of food poisoning in the U.S. are believed to be caused by this virus (compared,for instance to about a quarter with bacterial causes).

In the U.S. and other industrialized countries, the most common settings for norovirus outbreaks are long-term care facilities, such as nursing homes, where outbreaks can last months and even be fatal as people are more vulnerable. The virus is also common in restaurant food and at parties and catered events of all kinds - such as weddings, on cruise ships and tours, and in schools and child-care facilies (see earlier blogs).

Be careful!

To your good health,


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