Norovirus outbreaks -- stay healthy, wash your hands
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[February 28, 2013]
SPRINGFIELD -- No doubt you
probably know of someone who has been sick with a "stomach bug" this
year, typically caused by norovirus. Norovirus causes vomiting and
diarrhea and is very contagious. According to the Centers for
Disease Control and Prevention, more than 80 percent of norovirus
outbreaks occur from November to April. The CDC estimates that more
than 20 million people, or about 1 in every 15 Americans, are
infected with norovirus.
"Norovirus is the most common cause of stomach illness in the
country," said Illinois Department of Public Health Director LaMar
Hasbrouck. "However, the easiest way to avoid becoming ill is to
wash your hands. Viruses can contaminate surfaces and objects
touched by someone who is ill. If your hand then comes in contact
with your mouth, chances are you will end up becoming ill."
Norovirus can spread quickly from person to person in crowded
places like schools, long-term care facilities and day care centers.
A person who is ill and prepares or serves catered meals or food in
a restaurant can contaminate food, causing others to become ill.
Symptoms of norovirus infection usually include diarrhea,
vomiting, nausea and stomach cramping. Other, less-common symptoms
may include low-grade fever, chills, headache, muscle aches and a
general sense of fatigue.
Norovirus illness is usually not serious and most people are
better in a day or two. But, norovirus illness can be serious in
young children, the elderly and people with other conditions
affecting their health. According to the CDC, norovirus causes more
than 70,000 hospitalizations and 800 deaths in the U.S. each year.
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Tips for avoiding norovirus:
your hands, especially after toileting and before eating or
and disinfect contaminated surfaces immediately, using a
bleach-based cleaner. Or use 1 part bleach to 9 parts water
frequency of cleaning high-touch surfaces such as door knobs.
Do not work as a food handler while you
are ill with diarrhea or vomiting.
For more information on norovirus, visit
Department of Public Health file received from
Illinois Office of
Communication and Information]