Should They Eat This?
December 18, 2013 11:17 AM   Subscribe

I'm recovering from a miserable couple of days of norovirus- started puking late Monday night, now just sleeping it off. The thing is, I'm supposed to be hosting ten people for Christmas dinner here Saturday afternoon. Am I going to sicken the whole family?

Most sites say you stop being infectious after 48 hours. We're going to clean the bathroom with flamethrowers obviously. Still, I wouldn't wish this on my worst enemy, never mind family, is it safe to be serving food here?

By unhappy chance, 7 of the 10 people have already been sick this month with it themselves, or had their partners sick, so they should have immunity anyways I guess. It would be a giant pain at this stage to change venues needless to say. Advice?
posted by Erasmouse to Health & Fitness (24 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I have no idea, but according to the CDC, you aren't necessarily immune after having norovirus.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 11:21 AM on December 18, 2013

I think you'll be OK. Coincidentally, I am also in London, got the norovirus on Saturday off friends and felt its effects on Monday. On Saturday I am hosting 6 people for Christmas.

*You* stop being infectious after 48 hours. The norovirus itself can, apparently, live for 96 hours. I don't think you need a massive panic but clean the bathroom well, then door handles, and give other surfaces like the kitchen, kitchen table, kitchen taps a good seeing to.
posted by MuffinMan at 11:21 AM on December 18, 2013

As long as you wipe down every conceivable surface with bleach, you should be OK. I am a person who is never worried about bacteria and viruses, and even I used bleach on everything after our whole family came down with Norovirus a couple years back. That stuff is hard to kill and no fun.
posted by rabbitrabbit at 11:25 AM on December 18, 2013

Anyone else at the party is just as likely to be spreading it as you at this point. But you should warn people.
"Hey, just so you know, I'm coming off what I'm pretty sure was a case of norovirus last weekend. My research shows that it shouldn't be a problem, and I've scrubbed the hell out of the house, but I wanted to let you know beforehand."
posted by Etrigan at 11:28 AM on December 18, 2013 [2 favorites]

I would probably not risk it, really. Not only because of the ghastly thought of making everyone else horribly violently explosively ill, possibly while they were still in your home, but also because for the next 30 years at every family holiday everyone will laughingly remind you of the time you gave the entire family diarrhea.
posted by elizardbits at 11:29 AM on December 18, 2013 [11 favorites]

At minimum you really should give everyone a heads up. Let people choose for themselves whether they think it is safe. Personally I'd probably avoid you like the plague (ha!) just because very few things are worth the risk of horrible puking pooping disease. Other people may feel that the risk has passed and still want to come over. You just really need to make sure people have the ability to chose.
posted by PuppetMcSockerson at 11:35 AM on December 18, 2013 [4 favorites]

Please at least tell them before they arrive, and give them a gracious way to say no to your invitation if needed. Even if they don't have compromised immune systems, they may spend time with others who do (and those people would have a much harder time of it than you did).
posted by Houstonian at 11:38 AM on December 18, 2013 [6 favorites]

Are any of these family members elderly, pregnant or small kids?

And this previous askme might provide some ominous foreshadowing for you.

Do keep in mind that norovirus is particularly tenacious and really requires bleach, not just alcohol to be killed. Also, don't think that one good dousing of bleach will do it, keep up a daily cleaning until the guests arrive.
posted by fontophilic at 11:39 AM on December 18, 2013

I wouldn't, but I am a) super emetophobic, and b) friends or family with folks for whom a bout of food poisoning can leave them sub-par for months. Also, at my son's daycare, there have been up to 3 strains of blurts going around in the past (shown by some folks getting sick 3 different times over the course of a few weeks), so I wouldn't necessarily rule that out.

More importantly, for a two-day bug like you had, you yourself may not be 100% up for entertaining or scrubbing the house down by Saturday. I'd say, meet on neutral ground.
posted by tchemgrrl at 11:42 AM on December 18, 2013

it's a risk/reward thang. you will PROBABLY be non-contagious at that point, the risk curve asymptotically drops to zero, but it ain't AT zero, and your doc is in best position to give you the numbers. if you roll snake eyes on this one, there's a chance all your bathrooms will be occupied while people are poopin' in your hallway.
posted by bruce at 11:47 AM on December 18, 2013 [3 favorites]

As you can see, you're getting different sorts of answers. To err on the side of caution, I think the gracious thing to do is to inform your guests and let them decide.

I'm a person with a compromised immune system but I don't tell many people. If I were your guest I would really want to know.

Tell your guests and let them decide for themselves.
posted by kinetic at 11:48 AM on December 18, 2013 [7 favorites]

Woo - a call back ;).

What we ended up doing was bleaching and washing the launder-ables on the disinfect mode a few times.

And rescheduled Halloween out a couple of weeks, throwing a community "Trunk or Treat" party at school one friday night with a DJ and snacks.

I'd try to reschedule everyone for Three Kings Day, maybe ... just not have a party yet.
posted by tilde at 11:51 AM on December 18, 2013 [1 favorite]

Then again, I spent this last monday doing my end-of-year rounds at the various doctor's offices for me and the kids and now have a wicked sore throat that makes me want to vomit when I cough or breathe heavy and am surviving on DayQuil and soda alone, sleeping 12 hours a night, and generally am pretty miserable (and hosting Xmas starting saturday myself!).
posted by tilde at 11:53 AM on December 18, 2013

I personally wouldn't, in part because you're probably not feeling your best and because it'd suck to get other people sick
posted by spunweb at 11:56 AM on December 18, 2013

Kinetic has it if you really want to go ahead.

If I were you I'd ask another kind family member to take over from you, and if that isn't feasible on such short notice, I'd cancel and promise it will be extra wonderful next year.

It isn't worth it to gamble that you've nailed every surface sufficiently that none of them will get sick.
posted by bearwife at 12:13 PM on December 18, 2013

I wouldn't wish this on my worst enemy, never mind family

In matters like these, the right decision is easy to identify. Changing the venue is seen as inconvenient. In matters of health and security, inconvenience is far down on the totem pole. Don't gamble.
posted by Kruger5 at 12:19 PM on December 18, 2013 [4 favorites]

Sorry for your illness, but I LOL'd at your title. As far as your question: If a venue change is impossible, I'd see if they want to bring the food themselves/order a meal in advance for delivery. And leave out wipes. Lots of wipes. No kissing. No handshaking!
posted by clone boulevard at 12:33 PM on December 18, 2013

Sorry you have this it's hell I had it at the beginning of the year, it knocked me sideways.. I very much doubt you'll be infectious by then but you may still be a bit weak and wobbly. Start building your strength up with soup first as top part of gut repairs then go on to solids. A lot of people get a 2nd thing afterwards .. lovely eh? My whole mouth ulcerated and I wound up in A and E. Go as easy as you can get away with.
posted by tanktop at 12:41 PM on December 18, 2013

Saturday afternoon isn't Christmas proper, so restaurants will be open. Could you move the event to one and forego cooking? Norovirus is so nasty, if I were going to be your guest, I'd rather you cancelled because I'd spend the whole party nervously thinking about germs and diarrhea.

It is a huge pain. But being in the ER getting fluids and feeling like you're dying is a worse one. At the very least, give folks the heads-up and let them choose.
posted by emjaybee at 12:51 PM on December 18, 2013 [1 favorite]

There are so many places that norovirus can hide out that I'd 1) warn your guests 2) disinfect your home (as you mentioned you were going to do) 3) cater/order as much as you can.

From Wikipedia
The norovirus can survive for long periods outside a human host depending on the surface and temperature conditions: can stay for weeks on hard surfaces,[46] and up to 12 days on contaminated fabrics, and it can survive for months, maybe even years in contaminated still water.[47] A study done in 2006 found the virus still on several surfaces used for food preparation 7 days after contamination.
posted by troytroy at 5:25 PM on December 18, 2013

I'm about the opposite of immunocompromised (if that makes sense), and I'd want to know so that I could politely decline.

Seriously, getting a gastro virus 4 days before Christmas is the definition of hell. I would want to reduce any risk of such a thing as close to zero as I could.
posted by Salamander at 5:42 PM on December 18, 2013

I think you should let them know that a venue change is in order. I'd be less concerned about you being contagious and more than you can't REALLY clean every surface that could be harboring an extremely tenacious bug; and that the cost/benefit here doesn't work out. How bad would you feel if you found out that your guests got sick -- or got others, elderly or infants, even sicker?
posted by fingersandtoes at 6:14 PM on December 18, 2013

Whelp, everyone thought I was being paranoid and were still up for it... and now my poor husband's been hit with it! So it's definitely not going to be germ-free around here by Saturday. Survivors to meet down the pub. :( (I am feeling way better and am scarfing down sausages. Now I have to figure out what to do with all these potatoes!)
posted by Erasmouse at 11:35 AM on December 19, 2013 [1 favorite]

Addendum: wash those hands, Londoners! This thing is everywhere!
posted by Erasmouse at 11:36 AM on December 19, 2013

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