Norwalk Virus Slams Through our Home

Norwalk Virus

I think that was the Norwalk Virus that just slammed through my house! Within four days each member of my family of five was hit hard.

We figure my eldest son picked up the virus in Montreal where he spent the last weekend. When he woke up for work Monday morning he felt queasy and was vomiting violently within an hour. My first reaction was that he had too much fun in Montreal, but within a few hours, I realized this was not a result of something he ate or drank.  I went to the neighbourhood drug store and spoke to a pharmacist who said there was a “bug” going around, suggesting Gravol suppositories and cautioning me to keep my son well hydrated throughout the ordeal.  When the vomiting subsided, he complained of a bloated, upset stomach, fever and chills, headache, muscle aches, and lack of appetite.  Most of these symptoms lasted two full days with the lack of appetite hanging on for several more days after that.

By this time I had washed all the sheets and towels in the house and scoured all the bathrooms, hoping I could prevent this virus from spreading to the rest of the family. No such luck!

Very early Thursday morning my youngest son and my husband started vomiting. The other symptoms quickly followed. Other than a knee injury incurred as a parent chaperone on a school ski trip that forced him to miss two days of work several years ago, my husband had not taken any sick days in thirty-some years. This Norwalk Virus had them both flat-out for two full days!

I’m sure you can guess what happened next. Later that night my middle son and I were hit, fortunately not as hard. We experienced minimal vomiting, but the lack of appetite and bloated/nauseous stomach lasted for several days. This son was able to go to work the next day! When he had a severe case of appendicitis several years ago I kept taking him to the doctor who told us he had the “flu” I did not believe it because this kid is never sick and when he is he usually just goes to bed early and gets up the next morning ready to resume his routine. A nurse at QCH finally agreed to send us to CHEO for an ultrasound which showed his appendix had ruptured!

Sorry, I got off-topic there… When I started to feel better I disinfected the bathrooms (again!) and then phoned an infection control specialist I know of to pick his brain.  He said there have been a few sporadic cases of Norwalk Virus reported here in Ottawa, but no known outbreaks in the area.  We were never formally tested,  but the violent vomiting, the two-day incubation period, and the two full days of symptoms are typical of Norwalk Virus.

Today, one week later, we are all feeling much better, my house is clean and I’m looking forward to an uneventful week!