Ben’s Norovirus Nightmare – NoroCORE Food Virology

Ben’s Norovirus Nightmare

You might know Dr. Ben Chapman from his famous barfblog posts, and here he shares a particularly messy norovirus nightmare he experienced a few years ago with his son.


A picture of JackName: Ben Chapman

Institution: North Carolina State University

Position Title: Associate Professor, Food Safety Specialist


A few years ago I had my own noro nightmare.

Jack, my then four-year-old son, and I were visiting my brother and sister-in-law in Calgary. I was there for a talk, Jack tagged along to hang out with the fam – and so we could buy him hockey equipment (there’s way more selection in the true north).

As we went from store to store, in and out of the car, Jack said that his stomach hurt. I asked him what would make him feel better and he suggested eating Doritos would do the trick.

Ten minutes later, half a bag in, Jack yacked all over the car.

We went home, he stayed on the couch all day complaining of stomach cramps. He fell asleep around 6pm.

We left for the airport at 5am the following morning and he puked in the car (and all over his clothes) again.

After going through security and customs we boarded our first flight to Minnesota. Jack seemed to be better and wasn’t complaining of nausea. When we got to our connection airport he talked me into buying him an ice cream sundae. It wasn’t my proudest parenting moment.

Back in the air about an hour following the dessert-for-lunch meal and all was fine. Until we hit some turbulence as we approached Raleigh. The shaking plane triggered another round of puke, which ended up on him and the window.

The flight attendants responded quickly, and provided me with plastic bags to contain the pukey clothes and coffee pods to manage the smell.

Because there are some sympathy yackers out there.

The flight crew let us off the plane first (although we were in the second-to-last row). I picked Jack up with one arm, carried the vomit-covered clothes bag in the other with our carry-on strapped on my back. I squeezed down the aisle, potentially inoculating the plane with norovirus.

The post-script to the story is that while I didn’t get sick (surprising since I handled all the puke) my brother and sister-in-law did. And maybe a few other passengers.


Thanks Ben!



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