Up Close and Personal with Norovirus

This winter season was riddled with Norovirus. The public was alerted by the news that this winter had the highest number of Norovirus outbreaks in recent history. We were also made aware that a new strain of Norovirus had been discovered, and was so strong that it originated in Australia and made its way around the globe infecting cities worldwide. The only method of prevention that health officials could offer was constant hand washing, hand sanitation and disinfecting surfaces.

Read Norovirus, and other foodborne illnesses outbreaks, in the news.

Everyone at CloudClean™ is highly sensitive about hand hygiene—it’s our job. But we also know that we can only control our own personal hand hygiene, and hope everyone else is doing the same. Even with such hyper-awareness we too are suseptable to illnesses, and it upseting when we ourselves are exposed and get sick.

Although I won’t provide all the unfortunate details of being ill with Norovirus, I do want to share the results of my personal encounter with it. Why, you ask? Because, although we can all sympathize with someone who has been sick, we sometimes forget how awful Norovirus can really be. We talk about foodborne illnesses and what it means to business persons in the food industry but we can easily become detached from its true affects until it happens to us personally, so i want to provide an up close and personal account so you don’t have to.

It was a Thursday night dinner date with friends, and we decided to try a new restaurant. The conversation was fun and the food was yummy—we couldn’t ask for a more enjoyable evening. It was the next day that things took a turn for the worse. Although I can not prove the next 5 days were caused by my dinner, it was the only change-up in my weekly routine that I am aware of that could make my illness possible.

The next morning my stomach didn’t feel right. It felt like I ate something bad, but I didn’t feel bad enough to have it prevent me from going to work. As the day slowly went by, I slowly went downhill. Stomach cramps, fever, aches and pains throughout my body and nausia. It got to the point that I realized this was more than food poisoning because if it was my body would have already expelled it. This was different, and much worse. Worried that it was possibly Norovirus, I could not wash, or sanitize, my hands enough. I eventually decided that I was too sick to work, and didn’t want to get anyone else ill, so I went home. The next 72 hours were the worse I have felt in a very long time. Everything you read about Norovirus symptoms are 100 times worse. Imagine having the flu and food poisoning at the same time, and for almost 5 days straight.

Throughout my illness I was very conscious of my family at home. I made sure to wash my hands every chance I had, and made sure they did as well. I also wiped down the all surfaces I touched to do my best in preventing anyone else from getting sick.

My norovirus experience made me aware of two important things:

1. Despite how much I enjoyed my dinner at that lovely restaurant, my illnesses will always leave me skeptical about going back. They have lost my business. Imagine if your restaurant is the source of a foodborne illness. One customer sick may not affect your business, but an food borne illness outbreak that spreads to 10, 20, 100 people could be a huge impact. Not only have you lost their business, but the business of all their friends they have told.

2. Diligent and thorough hand washing proved to help prevent my family and co-workers from getting sick. If that is not proof of the power of hand washing, I don’t know what is.

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