E.coli symptoms differ from norovirus

10 confirmed cases of E.coli in Nova Scotia

Published on January 8, 2013

HALIFAX – In an effort to better educate people about E.coli, public health officials want to ensure Nova Scotians understand and can identify the differences between this illness and others like it.

Most Nova Scotians who have vomiting and diarrhea this winter will not have E.coli 0157.

"Norovirus infection, or what is known as winter vomiting, most people call a stomach bug, are very common this time of year," Nova Scotia's Deputy Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Frank Atherton said in a news release on Tuesday. "If you suddenly become sick with nausea and vomiting, you probably have the norovirus."

There are 10 confirmed cases of E.coli 0157 in Nova Scotia.

Symptoms sometimes include abdominal cramps, vomiting and bloody diarrhea lasting between three to 10 days.

The most common symptoms of noroviruses are sudden onset nausea, vomiting, diarrhea (usually non-bloody) and stomach cramps. This is sometimes accompanied by low-grade fever, chills, headache, muscle aches and fatigue.

"One of the main differences between norovirus and E.coli is how long the illnesses last," said Atherton. "Norovirus infection usually last 12 to 24 hours. If you have been experiencing vomiting and diarrhea for longer than two or three days, or if there's blood in your diarrhea, it's time to see your doctor or call 811."

People with norovirus usually feel better within a day or two.

Anyone who is experiencing vomiting or diarrhea should stay home from work, school or daycare. Food handlers and health-care workers should not return to work until 48 hours after diarrhea and vomiting have stopped.

To avoid spreading norovirus: wash hands often, especially after using the bathroom or changing diapers and before eating or preparing food; thoroughly clean floors, counters, and bathrooms. Pay extra attention to surfaces that are often touched; do not share glasses or dishes and use separate towels for sick family members.