Dear Mr Norovirus,

OK, so you ruined Christmas Day. Rather than eating delicious turkey and socialising with the neighbours, I spent the day alternating between throwing up and shivering under a duvet with a hot water bottle.

I think we can call that Round One to you.
And I know what you were thinking when I woke up to the sound of our house guest* throwing up at 3 am last weekend, because I was thinking the same thing:

“Hmm, that must be the same thing his kid had a few days ago. Infectious, then. Oh bloody hell, it’s my old friend Mr Norovirus. Let me see, person with highly infectious virus throwing up repeatedly in our one and only bathroom. Aerosols, all surfaces will be infected… oh, and I bet that’s the same noise that woke me up half an hour ago, so I was in there immediately after him without realising. I washed my hands, but then I used the towel and touched the door handle. 24-48 hour incubation period, hmm, it’s my birthday on Monday, I guess I’ll be spending that the same way as Christmas. Oh, fuck, citizenship test on Tuesday, if I miss that it’ll set me back by months. And even if by some miracle I’m not already infected, he’ll still be infectious for at least another three or four days… which, if I’m not careful, would see me getting sick on Saturday, big birthday dinner… this is gonna SUCK.”

But! Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on ME. I’ve learned a few things since our last encounter:
  • I boiled my toothbrush for 10 minutes before using it. And I brushed my teeth in the kitchen for a whole week.
  • I threw out my contact lenses a few days early, and switched to a new case when I opened the new pair of lenses.
  • I’ve washed my hands so often and so well, my skin is cracked and painful despite all the lotion.
  • I abandoned all environmental principles and bought some bleach spray. I’ve sprayed it on all hard surfaces in the bathroom at regular intervals for a week.
As of today – eight days after that dark, dark night – I am symptom free. 
Round Two to me.
Infect THAT, mo fo.
Yeah, OK, so the CDC says that “some people” are infectious for up to three weeks after symptoms stop. Too bad it doesn’t say which people… So FYI I will not be dropping my guard any time soon. 
But even if you DO make me sick some time this month, the joke will be on YOU, because I enjoyed my birthday AND my birthday dinner AND I took my citizenship test on schedule. So while I will curse your name from my battle station in the bathroom, victory will still me mine. Mwa ha ha ha!
You are a worthy adversary. And I’m sure we will meet again.  I will be forewarned, forearmed, and ready to kick your butt.
Now if you will excuse me, I need to write a letter of complaint to Mr Sangria. His behaviour last night was really quite appalling.
*Friend of Mr E Man’s, staying with us indefinitely while he navigates his way through a particularly vicious divorce. And that is all I have to say about that.

About Cath@VWXYNot?

"one of the sillier science bloggers [...] I thought I should give a warning to the more staid members of the community." - Bob O'Hara, December 2010
This entry was posted in personal, silliness, virology. Bookmark the permalink.

26 Responses to Dear Mr Norovirus,

  1. hypoglycemiagirl says:

    ugh, Mr Norovirus can go eff himself

  2. Karen James says:

    That b****** Mr Norovirus ruined my ski holiday to France last month.

  3. Cath@VWXYNot? says:

    Class action suit, anyone?

  4. ScienceGirl says:

    I was sure W.’s version of “fool me once” has be universally adapted by now 😉 Glad you are managing to avoid Mr.N. – kick his ass!Oh, and thanks for giving me some bragging rights 🙂

  5. bean-mom says:

    Ohhh, hope you have indeed staved off Mr. Norovirus on this round. I’ve had experience with him (or perhaps it was his brethren) this winter, too…

  6. Bob O'H says:

    But Mr. Sangria always seems so nice. Unlike the beer monkey who us always stealing my money and shitting down my throat.

  7. Cath@VWXYNot? says:

    SG, I initially decided to reclaim the original saying, but then I just had to insert that joke anyway. And you’re welcome!Bean-Mom, didn’t it hit you twice? I’m still feeling OK, and my odds of staying healthy improve every day. But at the risk of becoming a germophobe, I am keeping my guard up…Bob, that just makes Mr Sangria’s (Señor Sangria’s?) betrayal the next morning all the more bitter and disappointing.

  8. ScientistMother says:

    really you boiled your toothbrush? I would just buy a new one.

  9. Propter Doc says:

    At point of writing, I’ve never experienced a Norovirus…What’s with the grade thing by the way?

  10. Cath@VWXYNot? says:

    SG, it’s electric… with a brand new head on it. It just felt way too wasteful to throw it out when tipping it upside down in a pan of boiling water was a good and easy option! I did Mr E Man’s (non-electric) one too.Propter, lucky! The grade thing is a new comment option (customisable) that I thought I’d try, to get an idea of which posts people like and don’t like. Always trying to engage the lurkers!

  11. Cath@VWXYNot? says:

    Sorry, SM, not SG.

  12. chall says:

    oh… I hope you stay symptom free forever and that the citizenship thing went well.In regards to the other thing, hope kind of you to help out. I wish all the best with outcomes and all. And that he is well from Mr Norovirus now.

  13. Cath@VWXYNot? says:

    Thanks Chall! Forever would be nice… while I was sick last time I harboured thoughts of quitting my job and going to work in a norovirus vaccine research lab, for whatever shitty postdoc money they wanted to give me. The only good thing about the norovirus is that the symptoms, and the crazy thoughts they inspire, are very short-lived.The other thing – I’m glad we can help him, he’s having just an awful time. But at least he’s recovered from the virus and back to work now. I just wish we had more than one bathroom, I like my super-long showers and don’t really feel like I can have them when there’s anyone else in the house (Mr E Man doesn’t count ;))

  14. physioprof says:


  15. Mermaid says:

    OK, here is a stupid question…if you can’t get viruses more than once (which is why you get vaccinated), how come you can get Mr. Norovirus more than once?Can you tell I didn’t specialize in viral biology in grad school?

  16. Cath@VWXYNot? says:

    PP, which part?!Mermaid, the problem with the norovirus is that there are like hundreds of different strains. If you get one kind, you have “short-term” (haven’t seen a definition of short-term) immunity to just that strain, but you can catch a different strain the very next day if you’re really unlucky. Also the antigen that triggers immunity is variable / not shared between strains / mutates too fast. With it being an RNA virus, it also mutates faster than a DNA virus, which has better copying and proofing activities. Just like a cold… RNA genome, lots of strains, mutates quickly. So you can get lots of different colds in a year. Other viruses are less variable / mutate less slowly / trigger the immune response via an antigen that is well conserved and shared between strains… so vaccination works better for some viruses than others. This is the bane of the HIV vaccine research field too.

  17. Cath@VWXYNot? says:

    Geez, there were so many things wrong with my English in that last comment. Everything is actually correct though, except that the penultimate sentence should say mutate MORE slowly, not less.

  18. Science Bear says:

    This is a wonderful circulating event at PSU right now, and it seems like everyone I know is either currently sick or recently sick (myself included, having been out of commission for 3 days last week).

  19. Wayfarer Scientista says:

    so I’m responding here to your comment on my last post because, well, there’s someone there who would be hurt by reading this but yes, it was a romantic date!!!! And it was lovely. In fact, I’m a bit stunned by the whole thing – in a very good way 🙂

  20. Cath@VWXYNot? says:

    SB, sorry to hear that. It really, really sucks. But at least it’s over fast. I’ll take norovirus over Campylobacter (sick for 10 days in 2007) any day of the week.Wayfarer, thanks for answering my nosy question! Sounds promising!

  21. Wayfarer Scientista says:

    cath – oh indeed! I’ve been rather bowled over actually – amazing what happens when you meet a guy who doesn’t think that giving you a dead animal is flirting! (Too many AK guys.)

  22. Cath@VWXYNot? says:

    Ha! That’s too funny. Did you ever watch Men In Trees? My husband worked on it for a while and said it actually looked somewhat decent.

  23. EcoGeoFemme says:

    Glad you beat it for now. And happy belated birthday!

  24. Cath@VWXYNot? says:

    Thanks on both counts! 2 weeks now and still standing…

  25. Anonymous says:

    norovirus is ruining my vacation in Hawaii! i hope it will be over soon

  26. Cath@VWXYNot? says:

    Sorry dude. It's usually a 24 hour thing…

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