Norovirus Outbreaks Continue in Iowa

Date posted - January 24, 2012

Best prevention is to stay home when ill

The Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) continues to see outbreaks of norovirus illness across the state, and reports of activity have been increasing in recent weeks. Anyone can be infected with norovirus and become ill and you can get norovirus illness more than once.

With this virus in our communities and because it is so easy to spread, we need everybody to stay home when they are ill with diarrhea and vomiting, said IDPH Medical Director, Dr. Patricia Quinlisk. Theres no vaccine and no antibiotics for norovirus. It can spread in food, in the air, by shaking hands and by touching things like door knobs that an ill person has touched. So the only way to stop its spread is for those who are ill to stay home.

Norovirus is sometimes called a stomach bug. Symptoms of norovirus infection usually include diarrhea, vomiting, nausea and stomach cramping. Norovirus can spread quickly from person-to-person, especially in crowded, closed places like schools, hotels and daycare centers. The viruses are found in the vomit and stool of infected people, and can get into the air. Typically you get it by:

Eating food or drinking liquids that are contaminated with norovirus (someone gets stool or vomit on their hands because they are ill, they then touch your food or drink).

Touching surfaces or objects contaminated with norovirus and then putting your hand or fingers in your mouth.

Being near someone who is vomiting or having diarrhea.

Having direct contact with a person who is infected with norovirus (for example, when caring for someone with norovirus).

There are two critical ways to stop the spread of norovirus:

Stay home when ill and do not prepare food for anyone but yourself until three days after all diarrhea and vomiting have stopped.

Wash hands frequently, especially after using the toilet and changing diapers, and always before eating or preparing food.

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