How to Protect Yourself from Norovirus
A recent tweet from the CDC (Centers for Disease Control & Prevention) caught my attention: “Norovirus season is here…”
I headed to the CDC’s norovirus page to learn some interesting tidbits about that nasty norovirus. First of all, noroviruses are a group of related viruses that can cause gastroenteritis, which is inflammation of the stomach and intestines and leads to cramping, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. You’ve read about it happening on cruise ships, but it crops up in all types of enclosed places like nursing homes, daycare centers and schools. It’s also a major cause of outbreaks in restaurants.
Here’s some good information from the CDC:
Facts and remedies:
- Many people usually get sick with norovirus in cooler months, especially from November to April
- CDC estimates that each year norovirus causes 19 to 21 million illnesses, 56,000 to 71,000 hospitalizations and 570 to 800 deaths
- Anyone can get infected with norovirus and you can get it more than once
- It is estimated that a person will get norovirus about 5 times during their lifetime
- Norovirus spreads quickly
- It is found in the vomit and stool of infected people
You can get norovirus by:
- Eating food or drinking liquids that are contaminated with norovirus
- Touching surfaces or objects with norovirus on them and then putting your hand or fingers in your mouth
- Having direct contact with a person who is infected with norovirus, for example, when caring for someone with norovirus or sharing foods or eating utensils with them
I found this first line the most shocking:
- People with norovirus illness are contagious from the moment they begin feeling sick and for the first few days after they recover
More good info:
- Some people may be contagious for even longer
- There is no vaccine to prevent norovirus infection or drug to treat sick people
How to protect yourself and others by following a few simple steps:
- Practice proper hand hygiene
Wash your hands carefully with soap and water, especially after using the toilet and changing diapers and always before eating or preparing food.. If soap and water aren’t available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer. These alcohol-based products can help reduce the number of germs on your hands, but they are not a substitute for washing with soap and water.
- Take care in the kitchen
Carefully rinse fruits and vegetables, and cook oysters and other shellfish thoroughly before eating.
- Do not prepare food while infected
People with norovirus illness should not prepare food for others while they have symptoms and for at least two days after they recover from their illness. Also see For Food Workers: Norovirus and Working with Food.
- Clean and disinfect contaminated surfaces
After throwing up or having diarrhea, immediately clean and disinfect contaminated surfaces using a bleach-based household cleaner as directed on the product label. If no such cleaning product is available, you can use a solution made with five tablespoons to 1.5 cups of household bleach per one gallon of water.
- Wash laundry thoroughly
Immediately remove and wash clothing or linens that may be contaminated with vomit or stool. Handle soiled items carefully—try not to shake them—to avoid spreading virus. If available, wear rubber or disposable gloves while handling soiled clothing or linens and wash your hands after handling. Wash soiled items with detergent at the maximum available cycle length and then machine dry.
No one wants to get sick—especially when they travel—so please pass this info on to your family, friends and colleagues so they can help prevent norovirus from spreading, too.
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