The St. Clair County Health Department is reminding residents to take precautions this holiday season against a common and contagious virus called Norovirus. This virus is incorrectly known as the “stomach flu”. Norovirus outbreaks occur throughout the year, however over 80% of the outbreaks occur from November to April. Norovirus is NOT related to the flu (influenza) virus, which is a respiratory illness that can be prevented by getting a seasonal flu vaccination. There is no vaccine or specific medication for norovirus prevention. Children and older adults can be seriously affected. When sick with vomiting and diarrhea, avoid sending your children to daycare and school until illness ends. Persons working in nursing homes, those taking care of patients, or anyone who handle foods should stay out of work until atl east 48-72 hours after symptoms end.” The virus causes your stomach or intestines or both to get inflamed causing stomach pain, nausea, diarrhea and vomiting. The virus is passed through vomit and stool and contamination can reach as far as 40 feet from the source. The illness usually begins 24-48 hours after exposure, sometimes sooner. People infected are contagious from the moment they start feeling sick, to at least three days after recovery; sometimes up to 2 weeks later. According to Jennifer L Michaluk, Director of Health Education & Planning Prevention is the key. Remember these tips:
Wash your hands frequently with warm water and soap. Hand sanitizers do NOT work against norovirus!
Properly disinfect all contaminated surfaces using chlorine bleach
Wash all soiled clothing and linens
Avoid food or water from sources that may be contaminated
It’s important to stay home when you are sick. Avoid public places, social events and parties. This will help stop the spread of further illness. For additional norovirus guidance, precautions and cleaning decontamination visit http://www.cdc.gov/norovirus/index.htmlor call our Environmental Health