Surviving Norovirus in Austere Conditions

Norovirus (“stomach flu”) is one of the most infectious viruses around. It takes fewer than 20 virus particles to infect someone, so each droplet of vomit has enough virus to infect over 100,000 people. In the United States, norovirus causes 21 million illnesses annually, requiring 70,000 hospitalizations, of which 800 result in death.

Surviving a doomsday situation is difficult enough without getting sick. In a harsh environment, good health is critical, so keeping yourself in good shape can save your life.

Why Norovirus is so Contagious

  1. It’s unusually hardy. Norovisus is known to survive up to 12 hours on clean hard surfaces like a countertop, and up to 12 days on fabrics like carpets and upholstery.
  2. It has an extremely high rate of infection. It only takes a few viruses to make a person sick.
  3. It resists disinfectants. Common household cleaners and alcohol-based hand sanitizers have little effect on the virus. The exception is bleach, which does kill the virus.
  4. It is easily aerosolized. Infected persons vomit, then cough or sneeze, and the virus drifts around in the air, infecting those who breathe it.

Symptoms of Norovirus

  1. Sudden onset of nausea and vomiting. Projectile vomiting is characteristic.
  2. Watery diarrhea.
  3. Some people also have fever, headaches, chills, severe fatigue, and stomach cramps.

The primary complication is dehydration. Symptoms last from one to three days.

Natural Immune Boosters to Prevent Norovirus (and other illnesses)

The key here is to keep your body strong. Even if exposed to the virus, you’ll fight it off better if you’re well fed, well rested, warm, and dry.

  1. Eat foods rich in vitamin C. Citrus fruits, bell peppers, hot peppers, and leafy greens should be a large part of your diet. By all means, take supplements, but bear in mind that food is better than pills. Top 10 Foods Highest in Vitamin C.
  2. Eat foods rich in vitamin E. Vegetable oils, whole grains, seeds, and nuts. Vitamin E stimulates production of antioxidants and antibodies. Top 10 Foods Highest in Vitamin E.
  3. Eat garlic. Garlic is a powerful immune booster; it is antibiotic, antiviral, and anti-inflammatory. I just crush a teaspoonful and chase it with water. To avoid the burps, I then drink a shot of Bragg’s apple cider vinegar and chase that with more water.
  4. Eat omega-3 fatty acids. These are found in fatty fishes like salmon, mackerel, and tuna. Canned Salmon Comparison. Canned Jack Mackerel Article.

In addition to your diet, here are some other steps you can take to strengthen your immune system.

  1. Avoid stress. Yeah, I know: doomsday will be stressful. But a lot of stress depends on your state of mind. Focus on what you can be thankful for. Set yourself realistic goals that you can achieve on a daily basis. Take time to build up the morale of your group with comfort foods, games, and even music. Pray.
  2. Avoid injuries. I’m not talking about a scratch or a bruise. I’m talking about a fall that jars your bones, or a deep cut, or a break, or any heavy blow to the head. These things can cause your body to go into shock. You know that sense of general malaise you feel after a car wreck? That’s what I’m talking about.
  3. Get plenty of rest. Make it a priority to have a warm, dry, safe shelter for yourself and those in your charge. That way you can sleep soundly.
  4. Keep warm. Remember when your grandmother told you not to get a chill or you’d catch a cold? Actually, she was right. If you shock your body with a deep cold, you increase your risk of succumbing to illness.

And to avoid contamination from an infected person:

  1. Wash your hands frequently and thoroughly. This is critical. Disinfectants and hand sanitizers have little effect — you have to wash the virus off your hands with plenty of running water. Use plain soap and lots of rubbing and rinsing. This is far and away the most effective way to clean the virus off your hands.
  2. Wear a mask. It might seem goofy, but it’s very effective.
  3. Isolate the patient. If possible, don’t let the sick person share a room or bathroom with others.
  4. Do not share food or utensils.

Treating Norovirus

Noroviruses don’t respond to antibiotics, so save them for bacterial infections. Antiviral drugs are also ineffective. For otherwise healthy patients the treatment is just to provide comfort until it passes — keep warm, rested, and calm. Prevent dehydration with plenty of bland fluids like water and diluted broth, with a little mineral salt to replace electrolytes. Avoid sugary drinks, which aggravate diarrhea, as well as caffeine and alcohol, which are diuretics.

These procedures should help you avoid norovirus, or survive it if you do get sick.


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  5. jungle and helmand aviator

    an old medic friend of mine once recommended taking water treated with iodine pills to cure what ails ya. He said it not only cured the water in the canteen but all the way through your system. My partner and I always ate different foods from different sources when jungle flying to avoid the epizootic! When that didn’t work and we both got sick, iodine treated water got us back in the air in less than 24 hours. Does iodine water treatment also work against norovirus?

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