What Are the Symptoms of Norovirus? Almost 100 People Fall Ill After Visiting Maine Beach

Almost 100 people were infected with norovirus in Maine after visiting a lake, according to the results of an official investigation.

The Maine Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found 97 people who were taken ill after swimming at Wood Ponds Beach in Bridgton, or coming into contact with someone who did, had norovirus, the Press Herald reported.

The town was forced to close the beach on July 6 after people reported suffering symptoms associated with norovirus after swimming at the beach. Officials reopened the beach on July 10 when results confirmed the swimming area contained acceptable levels of E.coli, but water from the bathroom taps failed tests.

Those who immersed their heads or swallowed water while swimming at the lake were at greatest risk of infection, according to the CDC. The virus later spread to those who cared for the sick. 

This digitally-colorized, transmission electron microscopic (TEM) image, revealed some of the ultrastructural morphology displayed by a cluster of norovirus virions. CDC / Charles D. Humphrey

Bridgton Town Manager Bob Peabody said, according to the Press Herald: “It’s highly contagious, so it would appear that there’s a human element there, that somebody had it and was at the beach. I think the message is, if you’re sick or your children are sick, don’t go to the beach.”

Norovirus is the name of a condition caused by viruses which trigger vomiting and diarrhea, usually developing into full gastroenteritis. Anyone can contract the illness and one person can get norovirus several times in their life, according to the countrywide CDC. Other symptoms include nausea, stomach pain, as well as headache, fever, and an aching body.

“If you have norovirus illness, you can feel extremely ill, and vomit or have diarrhea many times a day,” the CDC states. “This can lead to dehydration, especially in young children, older adults, and people with other illnesses.”

The virus is spread when a person makes direct contact with an infectious individual or contaminated surface, including by affected food or water.

After a person contracts norovirus, it can take between 12 to 48 hours to develop symptoms. It can take between one to three days for a person to recover.

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There is currently no specific treatment for norovirus, and the illness must run its course. The CDC advises sufferers to drink plenty of fluids to replace those lost from vomiting and diarrhea, to prevent dehydration. 

Washing hands after using the restroom or changing diapers; handling food safely; disinfecting surfaces; promptly washing laundry contaminated with vomit or feces; and avoiding caring for others while a person is contagious are some of the most important ways of preventing norovirus from spreading.