Genesee County has seen a significant increase recently in gastroenteritis (stomach flu) cases. The viruses that cause this ailment, such as the Norovirus are highly contagious and easily transmitted through food, person-to-person contact, or by contaminated surfaces. The virus causes a moderate illness in most cases that can include nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain and diarrhea. Symptoms may also include low-grade fever, headache, muscle aches and fatigue.

 

Symptoms may begin as early as 12 hours after exposure or as late as 48 hours (2 days). This illness usually lasts between 24 and 60 hours, and most will recover without medical attention. Norovirus infection sometimes results in hospitalization due mainly to dehydration. The very young and elderly are at greater risk. Those with severe diarrhea should drink plenty of fluids.

How can you avoid getting sick?

Frequent hand washing using soap and warm water for a minimum of 20 seconds is one of the best defenses. Avoiding contamination of food, drinks, water and ice are crucial to preventing the spread of Norovirus. Anyone with symptoms of this illness should not prepare or serve food to others for 48 to 72 hours after symptoms have stopped. The virus can survive up to a month at room temperature and up to two months or more if refrigerated. Norovirus is resistant to some household disinfectants at normal concentrations. Water treated with bleach (1/3 cup bleach to a gallon of water) is recommended for cleaning contaminated surfaces. If you have questions and want more information, visit: www.gchd.us

Now go wash your hands!