A new strain of Norovirus (also known as the “stomach bug”) called GII.4 Sydney was the leading cause of norovirus outbreaks in the United States from September to December 2012, according to a study released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This year’s norovirus strain has been associated with increased rates of hospitalizations and deaths during outbreaks.
“Norovirus is a very contagious virus that can infect anyone at any time. You can get it from an infected person, contaminated food or water or by touching contaminated surfaces” said Erie County Health Commissioner Dr. Gale Burstein. “Frequent hand-washing is the most important health tip for all of us to remember so that we don’t spread illness” said Burstein. “Wash your hands carefully with soap and water especially after using the toilet and changing diapers, and always before eating, preparing, or handling food.”
Symptoms of norovirus infection usually include diarrhea, vomiting, nausea, and stomach cramping. Other, less common symptoms may include low-grade fever, chills, headache, muscle aches, and general sense of fatigue. Anyone can be infected with noroviruses and become ill. Also, you can get norovirus illness more than once during your life. The illness often begins suddenly. Norovirus illness is usually not serious. Most people get better in 1 to 2 days. But, norovirus illness can be serious in young children, the elderly, and people with other health conditions; it can lead to severe dehydration, hospitalization and even death.
There is no vaccine to prevent norovirus infection. Also, there is no drug to treat people who get sick from the virus. The best way to reduce your chance of getting norovirus is by washing your hands carefully with soap and water, especially after using the toilet and changing diapers and always before eating or preparing food. If soap and water aren't available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.