Katie’s Norovirus Nightmare – NoroCORE Food Virology

Katie’s Norovirus Nightmare

We’re running a series of posts written by members of our NoroCORE Collaborative, called “My Norovirus Nightmare” since Halloween is just around the corner. To kick it off is this particularly nightmarish story of a Spring Break gone wrong from Katie Overbey, one of our Master’s students:


Katie Overbey

Katie and her boyfriend in New Orleans…before things took a turn for the worse.

Name: Katie Overbey

Institution: NC State University

Position title:  Master’s student in Food Science, I study how to better communicate with schools having norovirus outbreaks and environmental detection of norovirus


Please describe a time you believe you had norovirus:

It was Spring Break of 2014 and I was spending the week with my boyfriend in New Orleans, where we stayed with my aunt. As one does in New Orleans, we ate lots of tasty food and tried lots of drinks. On the Saturday of our trip, after eating at my aunt’s favorite Mexican restaurant (side note: who eats Mexican food when they visit New Orleans??) she decided to take us on what has since been deemed the “drinking tour of the French Quarter.” After about three hours I started to feel queasy right in the middle of the iconic Pat O’Briens Bar. We thought maybe I was hungry from our day of activities so we headed to get dinner. The place was packed and while waiting (way too long) for our food, it hit me. I weaved through the crowd to get to the bathroom, just to discover that one stall was broken, the other was occupied and there was a line. I apologized to the people in line for what was about to happen and then proceeded to throw up in the sink, because as anyone who’s had norovirus knows – when it decides to hit, there’s not much you can do.

After cleaning up as best I could (though after my master’s research I now know that bathroom was doomed because of all my aerosolized vomit…) we headed back to my aunt’s as fast as possible. I proceeded to get sick all night long, which thoroughly put a damper on the rest of my “relaxing vacation.” Ah, irony.


Do you have a theory as to how you were infected?

At first, my aunt and boyfriend thought I had enjoyed the “drinking tour” too much, but I knew that what I had was way worse. I suspect that it had something to do with the Mexican food because after my aunt ate some of my leftovers, she got sick too.


What did you do to treat yourself?

Lots of water and a comfy blanket for sitting on the bathroom floor…


Did you ever have a lab test confirm norovirus as the cause of your illness?

Nope, though that would have been a fascinating academic endeavor.


Did anyone else around you get sick?

My boyfriend caught it two days later and then my aunt got sick right after we left.


Thank you Katie!

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