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WHAT IS IT?

Noroviruses is a highly contagious virus that affects the stomach and intestinal tract. These viruses are not related to the influenza virus (Flu). Norovirus is estimated to causes 19 to 21 million illnesses in the United States, 56,000 to 71,000 hospitalizations and 570 to 800 deaths each year. You can have norovirus illness many times in your life. You can get a norovirus illness at any time during the year, but it is most common in the winter.

People become infected through contact with another infected person:

  • You can get sick by directly touching vomit or feces of a sick person then touching your mouth, eyes, or nasal passage.
  • You can get sick if you do not properly wash your hands after using the toilet; you can get norovirus from touching contaminated surfaces.
  • You can get sick if you eat fecal contaminated food or water.

WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS?

  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Nausea
  • Fever
  • Abdominal cramps
  • Headache
  • Body aches

It generally begins 12 hours to 2 days after infection Norovirus infection usually lasts two to three days. The virus can stay in your stool two or more weeks after you feel better. New norovirus strains emerge every 2 to 4 years causing worldwide outbreaks.

HOW CAN I PREVENT CONTRACTING THIS DISEASE?

Currently, there is no vaccine to prevent a Norovirus infection. Most persons recover without antiviral medication or treatment. It cannot be treated with antibiotics because it is not a bacterial infection. Ill people should drink plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration. Young children and the elderly are at special risk for dehydration. In some cases, diarrhea may be so severe that the patient needs to be hospitalized.

You can also help prevent the spread of diseases by:

  • Frequently washing your hands vigorously with soap and warm water, especially after toilet visits, changing diapers, and before eating or preparing food.
  • Washing fruits and vegetables, and thoroughly cooking shellfish. Norovirus can survive temperatures as high as 140° F and freezing does not kill it.
  • Cleaning and disinfecting contaminated surfaces immediately with a bleach-based household cleaner.
  • Washing clothing and linens soiled with stool or vomit in hot water and soap, immediately.
  • Not preparing food for at least 3 to 5 days after recovering from being ill.
  • Flushing all vomit and feces in the toilet make sure the surrounding area is cleaned with a bleach-based household cleaner.