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Want to avoid getting norovirus? Stop doing laundry

If you’ve ever been sick while on vacation, you know what a horrible experience it can be.  Trust Web Watch on this, as we spent 2 miserable days holed up in our Disney hotel room on one vacation to the Happiest Place on Earth, unable to leave the relative comfort of the room for any length of time.

Yeah, it wasn’t pretty.

And if you’ve ever been sick while on a cruise ship where you don’t even have the luxury of finding a place to escape like you would have the opportunity to do if you were on land, then you can take the Web Watch Disney experience and multiply that by 100.

Giant stuffed norovirus plush doll
GIANT Norovirus Microbe plush animal

And while cruise ships are exactly where that ugly norovirus (or Norwalk virus) can take its most victims, but it certainly isn’t the last place to do so.  Reports this year have said that a full 2/3 of all emergency room visits for “flu-related symptoms” have absolutely nothing to do with the flu.

It’s really norovirus.

And ACCORDING TO THIS NBC ARTICLE ABOUT NOROVIRUS, there’s not a whole lot of things that you can do to protect yourself from contracting this bug.  Some of the places that norovirus likes to thrive include:

  • hand washed dishes… because the wash water can’t get hot enough to kill the virus
  • Raw shellfish can contain norovirus and other germs
  • Sticky dairy products or cheese left on plates that are then put through restaurant-quality washing machines can still harbor the bacteria when they come out of the wash
  • And poop particles found in the laundry

Let’s revisit that last bullet, shall we?

According to the article, “Norovirus is spread fecally — in the poop — and that means it can get into laundry.”

So it’s probably a good time to remind all Web Watch readers of our 2010 article about HOW MUCH POOP THE AVERAGE PAIR OF UNDERWEAR CONTAINS.  In other words, as you wash your underwear, that norovirus-contaminated carrier is being whooshed around the laundry bin and spreading its love amongst the rest of your clothing.  And while the washer mostly drains itself, there’s still the chances that some of that dirty water still stays at the bottom of the washer until the next load gets put in for its run through the wringer.  In other words, just because you’re washing one pair of dirties, doesn’t mean that the next load won’t be affected.

Yeah, you would think that going commando would solve this particular problem, but in reality it only moves the location.  Something to think about when you’re concerned about that embarassing panty line, right ladies?

What it all comes down to is this:  practice proper hand washing technique, use bleach to clean germ-filled surfaces whenever possible, and wash your undies in hot water with a touch of bleach thrown in for good measure.   Keeping things clean is half the battle against norovirus.

So let’s be safe out there.