Norovirus Infection In Babies - How Dangerous Is It?
The norovirus is a virus that spreads around the world and causes gastrointestinal inflammation in babies and young children.
In children under five years of age, it is the second most common cause of acute gastrointestinal inflammation after the rotavirus. Due to its high level of contagion, just a few virus particles are sufficient to trigger an infection. The norovirus represents an acute danger for babies. The vomiting and diarrhea can quickly lose fluids, which can put babies in an acute and life-threatening situation. So far there is no effective vaccination against the norovirus, so extensive hygiene measures to protect against the virus are essential in the case of illnesses in the personal environment.
Read more on the subject at: Norovirus - How Dangerous Is It?
These are the symptoms of norovirus infection in babies
As in adults, if a baby is norovirus infected, the result is severe diarrhea and frequent vomiting.
The sudden appearance of the symptoms is typical. In addition, the infection in babies is often associated with a fever. The diarrhea can be mushy or slimy in appearance and vary in color. A bad smell is also typical of the norovirus. Due to the increased diarrhea, the babies can quickly develop sores in the area of the anus. This should be avoided by changing the diaper frequently and taking adequate skin care.
If blood is added to the stool, it must be differentiated whether this is due to a skin injury or whether the blood is added to the stool. Blood in the stool indicates an injury to the intestinal lining and further treatment should be supervised by a doctor.
The greatest danger for the baby is the potentially rapid loss of fluid. This can be noticeable as cracked lips or a pale appearance. It is therefore essential to ensure that the baby is given sufficient water and electrolytes, otherwise this condition can quickly become life-threatening.
The gastrointestinal symptoms can also cause stomach cramps in the baby. This is shown by the child hunching over and pulling the legs towards the body.
Read more on the subject at: Diarrhea in the baby and Vomiting in the baby
With these symptoms, you need to see a doctor with your baby
The infection with the norovirus must be reported to the health department, so at least one visit to the pediatrician is necessary so that the stool can be examined and the correct diagnosis can be made. So it makes sense to see a doctor as soon as a norovirus infection is suspected. This is especially true if there is a risk of fluid loss and if the baby is younger than one year old. It is very important to call the pediatrician beforehand so that you can use a separate entrance. If the sick baby were to be taken into the waiting room, there would be a risk that other children and their companions could also become infected.
In older children or in milder norovirus infections, fluid replacement can also be done at home. However, you should then pay attention to certain warning symptoms for which you should immediately consult a doctor. On the one hand, these are signs of dehydration, such as cracked lips, dry mucous membranes, sunken eyes and abdominal skin, as well as an incipient apathy on the part of the child. Furthermore, an admixture of blood in the stool is a warning symptom for an injury to the intestine and should also be presented to the doctor.
This is how the doctor treats norovirus infection
There is no direct therapy against the norovirus, so that even the doctor can only alleviate the symptoms.
However, he can take more far-reaching and more effective measures. If the baby does not absorb enough fluid in the normal way, the doctor can replace the fluid through the vein as part of inpatient therapy in the hospital. At the same time, important electrolytes and nutrients can be added to the solution.
In the event of excessive vomiting, the doctor may give babies who are more than 6 months old medication to reduce nausea and nausea. However, this must always be handled carefully, as it can quickly lead to an overdose, which in turn can be life-threatening for the baby. Therefore, these drugs should always be administered under the supervision of a doctor.
Medicines against diarrhea are not given because they tend to be counterproductive, as you want the pathogen to be excreted in the stool. Probiotics can be given to build up the intestinal flora. These are capsules that contain living microorganisms that have a beneficial effect on the intestinal mucosa. These capsules can be given to newborns.
Read more on the subject at: How is norovirus infection treated?
You can do that as a parent
While the baby is infected with norovirus, it is essential that the baby continue to be breastfed or bottle-fed with a replacement. This prevents fluid loss and provides the baby with important nutrients. To intensify the fluid therapy, older children can also be offered tea sweetened with glucose or still water.
The administration of medication should always be discussed with a pediatrician first. In addition to symptomatic therapy, the baby should be given adequate skin care. Another point that parents may put in the background is adequate protection against infection. It is important to take extensive hygiene measures and to protect yourself with a face mask and gloves when caring for the baby.
Duration of illness
The acute symptoms usually only last one to three days. Sometimes symptoms can last as little as 12 to 48 hours. This short but violent course is typical for an infection with the norovirus.
Even after the symptoms have subsided, the virus can still be excreted in the stool for a few weeks. So there is still a risk of contagion for the environment. After an infection with the norovirus has expired, there is immunity for this particular strain, but there are very many different strains of the norovirus, so that one is not protected against the norovirus for life.
Find out more at: Duration of norovirus disease
These are the ways of infection
The most common route of infection is through sick family members or sick children or employees in day-care centers or crèches.
The norovirus is transmitted via the so-called fecal-oral route. Faecal-oral means that pathogens found in body excretions such as stool or vomit are ingested by a second person through the mouth, i.e. also through the breath. For example, through contact with the hands. Virus-containing droplets can form as a result of the gush-like vomiting of people who are already sick, which are absorbed by the people in the vicinity through their breathing.
In addition, there is a risk of smear infection. This happens when there is direct contact with vomit or stool from a sick person. Surfaces in the household or contaminated food are also sources of virus uptake. With these contaminated surfaces, there is a particular risk with babies that the surface is touched and then the hand or finger is put into the mouth, with which the virus enters the body of the baby Babies. The risk of infection is therefore so high because just a few virus particles are sufficient to trigger an infection. It is important to note that the highest risk of infection comes from people who show vomiting and diarrhea as symptoms. But the virus can still be excreted in the stool a few weeks after the symptoms have subsided, which would then continue to be a path for possible infection of the baby.
Read more on the subject at: How is the norovirus transmitted?
The incubation period is 6 to 50 hours. The incubation period describes the period between infection with the pathogen and the appearance of symptoms. During this period, the infected patient can infect people around him.
As a mother, how do I protect myself from infection while breastfeeding?
It is important to isolate all sick people in the vicinity immediately. You should try to avoid contact with sick or potentially sick people as much as possible.
If this is not entirely possible, strict hygiene measures are required. Surfaces and hands must be cleaned regularly with a special disinfectant that is also effective against viruses. If possible, separate toilets and sanitary facilities should be used. A face mask should be worn in the event of contact with vomit. Furthermore, strict food hygiene must be observed. If the child is already ill, breastfeeding should still be continued in order to maintain the child's hydration. You can protect yourself against infection with the above-mentioned hygiene measures.