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Tag Archive | "Norovirus"

Michiganders urged to take precautions against norovirus


Norovirus illness often peaks in winter. The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) has identified increases in norovirus activity recently and is urging Michigan residents to take precautions to stay healthy.

Although several viruses can cause vomiting and diarrhea, norovirus is the most common. These viruses are easily spread through food, by person-to-person contact or through contaminated surfaces. Therefore, take caution if someone in your household is ill. Norovirus infection is sometimes described “stomach flu” but it is not related to influenza (flu), a respiratory viral illness that can cause fever, cough, chills, headache, muscle aches, runny nose and sore throat. (See page 12 for more about influenza and other respiratory illnesses.)

Norovirus often causes nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and stomach cramping, but infected people may also have a low-grade fever, headache, weakness and muscle aches. Symptoms can begin as early as 12 hours after exposure to the virus or as late as 72 hours. The symptoms of norovirus usually last one to three days. In most cases, ill individuals fully recover without medical attention.

However, norovirus infection may result in hospitalization due to dehydration, especially in the very young and elderly. Individuals with severe diarrhea should drink lots of liquids. Symptoms that are not seen with norovirus infection are bloody diarrhea or high fever. If these symptoms develop, contact your medical provider.

The best way to limit the spread of these viruses is frequent hand washing for at least 20 seconds using soap and warm running water, being sure to completely clean all areas of hands and under fingernails. This is especially important after using the bathroom or before preparing or eating food.

Preventing contamination of food, drinks, water and ice is also very important. People who have been sick with vomiting and diarrhea should not prepare or serve food to others for at least three days after their symptoms are gone. One-third cup of bleach diluted with one gallon of water is the most effective way to disinfect surfaces. Bleach should be used in well-ventilated areas. Hand sanitizers are ineffective against the virus.

Norovirus can remain on a variety of surfaces for extended periods of time. Doorknobs, faucets, sinks, toilets, bath rails, phones, counters, chairs, tables, hand rails, light switches, keyboards and other high-touch surfaces should be disinfected more frequently, but especially within a 25-foot radius after a vomiting incident. Steam clean carpets and upholstery and launder clothes or linens contaminated with vomit or feces on the hottest setting.

Additional information about norovirus can be found at CDC.gov/norovirus.

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Norovirus in both Kent and Ottawa Counties


The Post was notified Wednesday by both Kent and Ottawa County Health Departments that they are seeing the spread of a norovirus-like illness.

Norovirus-like illness (stomach bug) spreads very easily and quickly person to person and by touching surfaces contaminated with vomit or stool. Common norovirus outbreak settings are in enclosed places like nursing homes, daycare centers, schools and cruise ships. It is also a major cause of outbreaks in restaurants and catered-meal settings if contaminated food is served or people handling food are ill. Anyone can get norovirus and can have it more than once. 

“We are receiving an increase in stomach virus reporting. Primary outbreaks are within school and childcare settings. To reduce the risk of illness in our community, people need to take preventive measures to stay healthy,” said Marcia Mansaray, epidemiologist, with the Ottawa County Health Department.

In Kent County, The Kent County Health Department (KCHD) is working with Davenport University to investigate a large outbreak of Norovirus-like illness at the W.A. Lettinga Campus located at 6191 Kraft Ave. SE, in Grand Rapids. 

University officials became aware of widespread illness among students and staff Sunday Jan. 14, 2018. Since then more than 100 students, faculty and staff have complained of being ill. Because of the rapid rise in the number of cases the Kent County Health Department sent staff members to the campus on Tuesday Jan.16. KCHD employees worked to collect stool samples to confirm Norovirus. The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services will test the samples. Results should be available by the end of the week.

Because Norovirus spreads very quickly and very easily person to person and by touching surfaces that are contaminated with vomit or stool, KCHD has made the following recommendations to Davenport University to slow the progress of the infection: 

  • Isolate all ill individuals in their rooms from onset of symptoms until 48 hours after symptoms cease.
  • Provide in room food service for these individuals and provide appropriate cleaning agents andinstructions for cleaning shared areas (such as dorm bathrooms).
  •  Have appropriate cleaning supplies available for all students as a preventive measure.
  • Shut down or limit food service (i.e. provide box lunches) to allow for a thorough cleaning of the foodservice area (kitchen and seating areas).

The most common symptoms of Norovirus are diarrhea, vomiting, nausea and stomach pain. A person may also have a fever, headache or body aches. Symptoms usually develop 12-48 hours after being exposed and most people will get better within 1- 3 days. 

A person infected may feel extremely ill. They may vomit or have diarrhea several times a day. This may lead to dehydration especially in young children, older adults and people with other illnesses. 

It is important to take in additional fluids if you notice a decrease in urination, dry mouth and throat or feel dizzy when standing up. 

Norovirus is the most common cause of gastroenteritis in the U.S. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that a person will get norovirus about five times during their lifetime. Norovirus outbreaks occur throughout the year, but more than eighty percent of reported outbreaks occur from November to April.

Protect Yourself and Others from Norovirus

  • Wash hands with soap and water, especially after using the toilet and changing diapers – and always before eating or preparing food. Hand sanitizers are generally not effective for norovirus.
  • Handle and prepare food safely. People with norovirus illness should not prepare food for others while they have symptoms and for at least two days after they recover from their illness.
  • Clean and disinfect contaminated surfaces (such as toilets, counters and doorknobs). Always clean up the entire area immediately after someone with norovirus vomits or has diarrhea. Put on disposable gloves and disinfect contaminated surfaces using a bleach-based household cleaner as directed on the product label or with a solution of five tablespoons of bleach to a gallon of water.
  • Wash laundry thoroughly. Immediately remove and wash clothing or linens that may be contaminated with vomit or stool. Handle soiled items carefully – try not to shake them – to avoid spreading the virus. If available, wear disposable gloves while handling soiled clothing or linens and wash your hands after handling. 
  • Stay home if sick for at least 24 hours after symptoms end to avoid spreading the illness to others. 

How You Get Norovirus

Having direct physical contact with a person who is infected, such as caring for or shaking hands with a sick person and then touching your hands to your mouth.

Eating food or drinking liquids that are contaminated with norovirus.

Touching surfaces or objects with norovirus on them and then putting your hands in your mouth.

People with norovirus illness are most contagious from the moment they begin feeling ill and for the first few days after they recover. Some people may be contagious for even longer.

For more information, visit www.cdc.gov/norovirus.

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Norovirus on the rise in Kent County


GRAND RAPIDS – Reports of stomach illness to the Kent County Health Department have increased over the past week.  In many cases, it appears individuals are suffering from norovirus, a common illness that causes stomach cramps, nausea, diarrhea, and vomiting.  Communicable Disease staff at KCHD has been in contact with local emergency departments and urgent care centers, as well as people impacted by the illness. Norovirus is highly contagious and is easily transmitted from a sick person to those who are well.

“If you or someone in your family is suffering from norovirus, avoid contact with those who have not been infected,” said Adam London, acting Health Officer of the Kent County Health Department.  “If you work in the food service industry, in a cafeteria, or in a restaurant, and you are ill, stay home until you recover. The Michigan Food Code requires food employees to be symptom-free from diarrhea or vomiting for a minimum of 24 hours before returning to work.”

Norovirus is contained in the vomit and diarrhea of an infected individual. Although a surface may not be visibly soiled, the virus can still be present and can live on this surface for long periods of time if not properly cleaned. Because of this, if possible, infected individuals should use one bathroom while uninfected individuals use another.  The infected person should use disposable paper towel to dry their hands after washing, to prevent the virus from spreading. Be sure to clean that bathroom (and any other potentially contaminated areas) with a chlorine bleach solution, mixing ¼ cup of bleach with one gallon of water.

Other tips:

1.Wash your hands before eating, after using the bathroom, and before, during and after preparing food. Rub your hands together to lather the soap, and be sure to really scrub the backs of your hands, between your fingers, and under your nails:

• Continue rubbing your hands for at least 20 seconds.

• Rinse your hands well under running water.

• Dry your hands using a paper towel or air dry them.

• After drying, use another clean paper towel to open the door, and then dispose of it.

2. If you have been suffering from vomiting or diarrhea, remain at home until symptoms subside.

3. Don’t prepare food for anyone else until you haven’t had symptoms for 24 hours or more.

4. If sharing food, don’t use bare hands when handling foods, and use utensils to transfer food from container to plate.

There is no medication to treat norovirus. If you suspect you have it, drink plenty of water or sports drinks that do not contain caffeine. If you feel you are suffering from severe dehydration, contact a health care provider immediately. Symptoms can be worse in young children, the elderly, or in those with weakened immune systems.  For more information, check out http://www.cdc.gov/norovirus/.

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