A mouthguard is important for norovirus

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Parents should protect themselves from children's norovirus infection

Several thousand school children in Berlin, Brandenburg, Saxony and Thuringia are currently suffering from diarrhea and vomiting. How it came to the virus infection is still unclear. If a child suspects norovirus, parents should be careful not to come into contact with the highly infectious vomit. Doctors recommend wearing disposable gloves and a face mask.

Norovirus is highly contagious "A norovirus infection primarily occurs as a vomiting disorder, the vomited fluid is highly contagious," explained the infectiologist at the University Hospital Bonn, Dr. Peter Walger. “Therefore, contact with vomit has to be reduced to zero.” Parents should therefore wear face masks and disposable gloves when they help their child who has to vomit. In any case, parents should take care not to come into contact with splashes, Walger advises. In addition, to protect against infection, it is important not to touch your face with your hands, as the viruses could otherwise enter your stomach through your mouth and trigger the disease there.

Walger also recommends the use of alcohol-based disinfectants. Doors, telephone receivers or other surfaces could be disinfected with this. Pathogens on the hands could also be killed with an alcohol-based agent.

Infection with norovirus is "short and violent" Noroviruses are highly contagious and cause viral gastroenteritis, a diarrhea disease in humans, which is also known colloquially as gastrointestinal flu. They cause the majority of diarrheal diseases in humans that are not caused by bacteria. Noroviruses are reportable in Germany.

According to Walger, infection with noroviruses is “short and violent”. As a rule, the person affected had to fight with violent diarrhea and vomiting for about one to one and a half days, then the vomiting and sometimes the diarrhea subsided. Children are often back to normal after just two days. "The disease can be managed quite well without a doctor," said Walger. If the affected person also has a fever and complains of very severe symptoms of the disease, a visit to the doctor is necessary. In the case of concomitant diseases such as diabetes, it is necessary to consult a doctor anyway. Infection with the norovirus can be life-threatening for older and immunocompromised patients.

In the case of vomiting and diarrhea, loss of fluid is particularly dangerous. Therefore, parents should always make sure that the children consume enough water or tea. Walger also advises to compensate for the loss of salt. There is currently no other therapy. Experts estimate that around 300 million people contract the gastrointestinal virus each year.

Norovirus detected in some children
A spokesman for the Ministry of Health in Thuringia in Erfurt said on Friday afternoon that 27 of the samples examined detected the norovirus. The spokesman said that “the ministry is still unable to clearly determine whether this was or was a cause. In Thuringia alone, 887 cases of illness were reported by Friday evening.

"It is currently too early to determine the cause of the massive outbreak of diarrheal diseases," said a spokesman for the Saxon Ministry of Social Affairs. “Furthermore, we don't know what the cause is. In order to ensure the results, further food and stool samples are currently being examined in the laboratory. By the weekend, 2,800 acute diarrheal diseases in children had been reported in Saxony. (ag)

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