Norovirus taking its toll across the country
by Rachel Davis
Feb 08, 2013 | 3924 views | 0 0 comments | 7 7 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Officials say one of the best ways to avoid contracting the Norovirus is to thoroughly wash your hands. Daily Mountain Eagle - Ron Harris
Officials say one of the best ways to avoid contracting the Norovirus is to thoroughly wash your hands. Daily Mountain Eagle - Ron Harris
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An old virus with a new twist seems to be infecting cities across the country recently. A new strain of the Norovirus, a virus that has plagued cruise ships for a number of years, is being seen in hospitals across the United States.

Norovirus causes inflammation of the stomach and intestines. The symptoms include diarrhea, vomiting, nausea, stomach pain, fever, headache and body aches

Norovirus can also easily lead to dehydration, especially in those who are chronically ill, elderly patients or children. The symptoms of dehydration include decrease in urination, dry mouth and throat and feeling dizzy when standing up. Small children who are dehydrated may cry with few or no tears and be unusually sleepy or fussy.

The Centers for Disease Control say that the Norovirus can be transmitted by infected people before they show any symptoms and for up to three days after they show no symptoms of the virus.

The incubation period between infection and onset can be anywhere from 12 to 48 hours and the symptoms usually last from 12 to 60 hours.

The CDC also said Norovirus spreads very quickly through enclosed spaces such as daycare centers, nursing homes, schools and cruise ships. Most infections in the U.S. occur between November and April.

Shellfish, leafy greens and fresh fruits can often transmit the virus, as can any uncooked or raw food, or food handled by an infected person after it was cooked.

According to Pat Spiller, infection control specialist for Walker Baptist Medical Center, the new strain is difficult to kill and only bleach (or, specifically, a 1/10 bleach solution) will disinfect surfaces.

Hand sanitizer and sanitary wipes are no effective against this strain. It can be passed through contact with items that have come in contact with infected people, such as door knobs, and can also be airborne.

Spiller also said there is no treatment for the virus, the best practices are to manage and treat the symptoms until the virus runs its course.

“Handwashing with soap and water is the most effective way to prevent the spread of this virus,” Spiller said in a release. “You must follow the CDC guidelines — adequate soap and vigorous handwashing for 20-30 seconds — to get rid of the virus and prevent its spread.”

She also said that people who suspect they might be infected should seek medical help and not go to school or work, where they risk infecting others.

Walker Baptist has not yet seen any patients with the new strain of Norovirus, but they are ready with the necessary precautions if they do.

“We are prepared to implement additional infection prevention safety measures if needed to help stop the spread of the virus,” Spiller said.

For more information on the Norovirus, visit www.cdc.gov.