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General Travel

Norovirus – I hate you.

March 3, 2016

Last week, we had a lovely, lovely trip to Disney World with some friends. The last three days of our trip, I planned to spend relaxing with my in-laws in their new condo in Florida. (Yes, I am capable of being with my in-laws AND relaxing at the same time, lucky me.)

Except, my few days of relaxation were rudely, rudely interrupted at 4am the day after our arrival to the condo with an onslaught of horrible gastrointestinal symptoms that were relentless and for your benefit, I will not describe. I can say with certainty, I have never been so ill. By that afternoon, I was in the ER, a bag of fluids pumping into my veins as well as what ever anti-nausea miracle drug the doctors gave me. It was there that I learned I had most likely contracted the dreaded norovirus.

The whole time I kept thinking – HOW. HOW DID THIS HAPPEN TO ME. I am the most OCD hand washer I know. My hands look like the hands of a 90 year old woman because they’re so dried out from years of hand washing and hand sanitizing. At Disney World I was frantically waving hand sanitizer at everyone the second we got off a ride, hoisting Charlotte up to sink after sink after we used the bathroom, and yes, even wiping down our eating areas with disinfectant wipes before we sat down. I even spray Lysol on our hotel phones and remote controls the second we arrive to the hotel.

So – let me tell you how I most likely caught the lovely norovirus.

First of all, norovirus is ridiculously contagious. It only takes 10-20 virus particles to infect you and for comparison, the average sneeze of a flu infected person contains 16,000 flu virus particles.

For the most part though, norovirus is not airborne. Except in vomit. Yes, if you are near someone who is vomiting thanks to norovirus, you can suck those particles right in. This could easily happen in public restrooms and I definitely visited a few of those, so that’s a possibility. The other and most common way norovirus is spread is virus particles, (most likely from fecal matter), on the not properly washed hands of an infected person.  I mean, I washed my hands and even used hand sanitizer after I was done in the bathroom as well as every other public area I was in…

WAIT. Guess what else? The jury is still out as to whether or not hand sanitizer kills norovirus. Hand washing is still the number one way to clean your hands, but if you’re in between bathrooms and touch something icky, and hope the sanitizer will save you? Think again.

We did visit some buffets, but again, I was pretty diligent with the hand washing. But, what about the people making our food? Another common way norovirus is transmitted is by food that was handled by someone with the virus who didn’t properly wash their hands. Personally, I think this is the most likely way I caught the virus, because no one else in our party came down with it. Including Charlotte, thank goodness.

I’m also thankful I got sick while I was with family so they were able to take care of Charlotte while I quarantined myself to a different part of the house. And trust me, when people would have you believe this is something that is gone in 1-3 days, that is simply not true. Yes, the major symptoms will be gone – but here I am, a full week later – eight pounds lighter and with a very sensitive stomach. My energy is zapped and my brain still foggy. If this had happened at the beginning of our trip, it would have been completely ruined.

Will this dissuade me from travel in the future? Absolutely not. But, I will always be prepared with plenty of stomach medicine. I’ve also researched which hand sanitizer is effective against norovirus and the favorite seems to be this Clorox one: Clorox 02174 Bleach-Free Hand Sanitizer Spray: 6-Pack of 2 oz Bottles – kills Norovirus (Feline Calicivirus). Bundled with a magnet.
It’s spendy compared to other hand sanitizers, but there’s no way I will ever travel without it again.

For the record, I travel almost monthly and have done so for the last decade, (including a number of cruises), and this is the first time I’ve ever come down with this. I’d say that’s a pretty good record. Stick with the hand washing and good hygiene, and odds are you will be ok – but you can never be too prepared.


~ a

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  • Reply Janet March 3, 2016 at 4:49 pm

    But even with some cruise liners that have a lot of gastro bugs it’s the people that DONT wash their hands that cause the problems with everything they touch and it just goes on.

    • Reply amybruni March 3, 2016 at 4:53 pm

      That’s exactly what I said above. 🙂 The most common way it is spread is people who don’t wash their hands properly.

  • Reply Eileen Kiziukiewicz March 3, 2016 at 4:55 pm

    oh Amy, I am so sorry you came down with that virus, I like you always wash my hands and use sanitizers, good to know that the clorox ones help, I hope you feel better soon!

  • Reply Terri March 3, 2016 at 5:13 pm

    I am raising my 3 year old granddaughter and when she was just a little over 1 yr old she came down with the norwok flu ..she had it for 12 days 11 days of vomiting therefore since she was 2 I have her hooked on using hand sanitizer while we are she reminds me to bring it 🙂

    But so sorry you had to go through that 🙁

  • Reply Julie Conkle March 3, 2016 at 5:19 pm

    I am a proud germaphobe. I too always have hand sanitizer in my purse, I wash my hands a gazillion times a day, I never, ever, sit on public toilet seats, I sanitize the shopping carts at the store, I could go on and on. I just wish everyone could be more careful. Hoping you feel better. It takes a lot out of you, literally!

  • Reply Aldona Pilmanis March 3, 2016 at 6:05 pm

    Well that sounds just awful! Thanks so much for researching the best sanitizer. It’s now in my Amazon cart. I also bought the natural insect repellant you recommended to protect against Zika. Thanks for looking out for us, Amy! XO

  • Reply Rhonda March 3, 2016 at 6:34 pm

    I feel your pain, I contracted it years ago and it was horrible! I’ve never been one for hand sanitizer, I do wash my hands, but I dislike the feeling of things like sanitizer/lotion on my hands. And in my case, it wouldn’t have mattered as it was an infected person who handled my food that caused mine. I wish you a speedy recovery!

  • Reply Tina March 3, 2016 at 7:12 pm

    Are they 100% positive that you had the norovirus? I only ask because it’s odd that no one else came down with it when it is so highly contagious. The H. Pylori infection is a bacterial infection that only affects your stomach, and is not at all contagious. I’m unlucky enough to have had h. pylori this past November and the norovirus years ago, and they are almost identical in symptoms.

    • Reply amybruni March 3, 2016 at 8:23 pm

      After blood work they seemed pretty sure, but I guess nothing is 100%.

  • Reply Helen March 3, 2016 at 7:31 pm

    I was so sorry to hear about your illness. It sounds like Charlotte escaped it, thank goodness.

    I have had Norovirus twice. First time, I caught it at a casino…sort of makes sense, doesn’t it. I was lucky that time, as it was the 24 hr variety. The next time, I was sick for almost a week.

    If it is in a given area, it is so hard to avoid getting sick, even with OCD style diligence. Unless you never touch anything or come close to other people, it’s just impossible to avoid the possibility of contamination. On cruises, I always use the hand sanitizer. I also try to avoid hand rails and elevator buttons.

  • Reply Katie March 3, 2016 at 7:47 pm

    So sorry you had to experience with an almost great ending of your trip. Glad you were with family to get you both taken care of. My family and I went on a Disney Cruise and know how strict and clean they are around the clock. I was truly amazed but knowing that it takes just one person to not wash their hands to pass this virus along to others. Glad you’re feeling better and pray that you’ll have a full recovery soon! Love your blogs and pics Amy!! 😊

  • Reply Cher March 3, 2016 at 8:47 pm

    Hi Amy! I enjoy reading all your posts& now blog! I wanted to mention what I use. I put colloidal silver in a spray bottle & spray away anywhere questionable!;) I will take daily while on trips& even if any of my 3 sons bring a little bug home from school. It will shorten the length of time if already sick, but hopefully can cut it off at the pass before it takes hold. I hope you are back in action soon! Will you be organizing any ghost hunts in Florida anytime soon? Aloha,Cher

  • Reply Karen Trayah March 3, 2016 at 11:36 pm

    Oddly enough, the last time my granddaughter was at Walt Disney World she was only 2 and she caught it too. She started showing symptoms on the last day of her drive down to WDW. Poor little girl, she was so sick and on all kinds of bed rest, fluids and meds. It was so hard to enjoy our vacation since we were so heartbroken for her. We plan to go again with her next year and hopefully everyone stays healthy. I hope you feel better and Charlotte doesn’t catch it. (or the hubby)

  • Reply Amy Sykes March 3, 2016 at 11:46 pm

    Oh boy, do I know your pain… several years ago I worked at an Alzheimer’s nursing home and we got hit with norovirus. I got it twice. I was sick for a week, and then got better. But the week after that I got it again. I honestly thought I was going to die. All in all I lost 20 pounds, and seriously rethought working at the job I was at, because it was a nightmare. I wash my hands so much now, I *never* want to get it again. Supposedly it’s going around my area right now and I’m researching where to buy a hazmat suit! I am glad Charlotte didn’t get it, that would’ve been awful.

  • Reply Doyle March 4, 2016 at 9:23 am

    Might have been bad wine.

  • Reply Glen July 6, 2016 at 11:20 am

    You too?

  • Reply Jenni Cohen August 30, 2016 at 12:53 am

    I remember when this happened and my twin girls were beside themselves when they found out you were in the er a mere mile from our home. They wanted to know where Charlotte was, was she okay…and they were very happy and relieved when I told them she was with her grandparents. LOL…and THEN…”mama we should go to the hospital and visit Ms. Amy!! She’s far away from home and in the hospital sick…she might want someone to talk to or need someone to bring her fresh pj’s or a soft pillow and blankie!!” Needless to say, at 9 years old at the time, they believed because they have watched you in tv and love asking me all the time if “Ms. Amy has posted any new pics of Charlotte or her & Adam”…they were quite upset with me when I told them we couldn’t just go to hospital to take care of you!!! I will admit I had a bit of a fan girl moment when I learned that your in laws lived in the same town as us!! Lol…thank you for sharing so much of your life and the adorable little gelfling with all of us!!!

  • Reply Tina September 20, 2016 at 1:33 am

    My mom and I also got this same sickness at Walt Disney World in February 2016. The only thing we did different than anyone else is eat the salmon at the buffet in the Contemporary resort. Ruined our entire trip for 3 days. I slept next to my 3 year old and husband and neither of them got sick so it had to be something with the food. i thought I was going to die. Makes me not ever want to go back.

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