No norovirus warning issued locally

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

In light of the norovirus scare currently taking place in Taney County, officials at the Barry County Health Department have not received any reports of the highly contagious illness spreading across county lines.

Roger Brock, administrator at the Barry County Health Department, said there was no cause for concern at this time.

"We may have had one or two cases in Barry County," Brock said, "but it is certainly not at epidemic proportions, and therefore, not reportable."

Norovirus is easily spread, especially in locations such as cruise ships, nursing homes, schools and daycare centers.

The virus can also be spread by eating or drinking liquids contaminated with norovirus, touching surfaces contaminated with the virus or having contact with someone infected with norovirus.

People are most contagious when they are sick with the virus and during the first three days after recovering from the illness.

The virus can also be found in fecal matter for up to two weeks after an individual begins to feel better.

Symptoms include diarrhea, nausea and vomiting, stomach pain, fever, headache and body aches. This virus causes acute inflammation of the stomach, intestines or both.

Most people suffering from the virus will recover within one to three days. Young children, older adults and those with other illnesses may suffer from dehydration, which includes a decrease in urination, dry mouth and throat and feeling dizzy upon standing.

Norovirus cannot be treated with antibiotics, because it is not a bacterial infection.

Those suffering from the illness should drink plenty of liquids, including sports drinks and other liquids containing no caffeine or alcohol, to replace lost nutrients and minerals.

Severe dehydration might require hospitalization and treatment with intravenous fluids.

Using proper food and hand-washing techniques will reduce the risk of infection.

Hands should be thoroughly washed after using the toilet or changing diapers and always before eating, preparing or handling food.

Alcohol-based hand sanitizers can be used in addition to good hand-washing techniques but not as a replacement.

Area residents are cautioned to wash fruits, vegetables and seafood thoroughly before preparing and eating them.

Noroviruses are relatively resistant and can survive temperatures as high as 140 degrees Fahrenheit. Food that might be infected with norovirus should be thrown out.

Norovirus can survive on contaminated surfaces, such as carpeting, for up to 12 days. The virus can also survive relatively high levels of chlorine and temperature variations.

Those who have suffered a bout of norovirus should take steps to thoroughly clean contaminated surfaces with hot, soapy water and again with a household disinfectant. Immediately remove and wash clothing that may be contaminated with stool or vomit in hot, soapy water.

According to the Center for Disease Control, norovirus is the most common cause of acute gastroenteritis in the United States each year. Of the estimated 21 million affected each year, 70,000 will require hospitalization and about 800 will die from the illness

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