Healthier Me: The Norovirus - Valley News Live - KVLY/KXJB - Fargo/Grand Forks

Healthier Me: The Norovirus

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A new strain of the Norovirus is sweeping through the US as we reach the peak of the winter flu season. Valley News Live's Healthier Me has what you'll need to know to stay healthy.


Just the Facts: What is the Norovirus?

The Norovirus is spread through contact with contaminated food, drink, or surface. It's a "stomach bug"; symptoms develop rapidly and include abdominal cramps, vomiting, nausea, diarrhea, and fatigue.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there are more than 20 million cases and approximately 800 Norovirus-related deaths in the US each year.

Dr. Gary Simon, George Washington Univ. Hospital: "It's very contagious.  There are multiple epidemics of it.  Other than cleaning the areas, there's not a whole lot people can do about it. [...] It's so infectious and requires such a low concentration of virus [that] it's rapidly spread through a population. That's why you see outbreaks on cruise ships, in dormitories, in places where people are in close contact with one another."

Most people infected recover after a few days; however it can be fatal in rare cases. As with other viruses, those at greatest risk are the very old, the very young, and those with weakened immune systems.


Just the Facts: Prevention

Lisa Sylvester, reporting: "The Norovirus is so contagious because it's so hardy.  Your typical hand sanitizer... that alone is not going to do it. Your typical disinfecting wipe to wipe down surfaces... normally that would be fine... for instance with the flu virus. [That's] not the case with the Norovirus. What you really need to do is to wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water, and when you wipe down surfaces, make sure you use a bleach-based solution."

These are the top five suggestions from the CDC:

  1. Wash your hands often.
  2. Wash fruits and vegetables.
  3. Cook shellfish thoroughly.
  4. Clean surfaces and wash soiled laundry.
  5. Don't prepare food or care for others while you're sick.


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