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Va. Health Dept. Forecasts Arrival of Seasonal Stomach Bug


Dec. 12, 2013

The Virginia Department of Health (VDH) says their data indicate the norovirus will be hitting Virginians just in time for the holidays.

Commonly referred to as “the stomach flu,” norovirus is a highly contagious gastrointestinal virus that causes vomiting, diarrhea and abdominal cramping. Norovirus circulates throughout the year in Virginia; however, illness typically increases during the winter months.

As part of the Commonwealth’s statewide readiness efforts, VDH has historically studied disease dynamics by analyzing data received from emergency departments and urgent care centers.

“Based on current data analysis, we expect to see an increase in norovirus illness and outbreaks in Virginia over the next few weeks,” said State Health Commissioner Cynthia C. Romero, MD, FAAFP.

Last season VDH investigated 184 norovirus outbreaks statewide. Because the virus can significantly impact facilities such as day care centers, jails, schools and nursing homes, local health districts work closely with these facilities to minimize the severity of outbreaks and help prevent them in the future.

Although norovirus infection can cause a great deal of discomfort, it usually goes away on its own without requiring hospital care. Replacing lost fluids is key to preventing dehydration, especially in children and the elderly. Persons who become severely dehydrated should seek medical care.

“It is the time of year when families and friends are coming together to celebrate the holidays,” said Romero. “Norovirus is a sure way to dampen the holiday spirit, so being mindful of simple things like washing your hands or staying home if you are sick is especially important now.”

Because norovirus is so infectious and can survive on surfaces for prolonged periods, it is important to take steps to limit the spread of the virus. Here are some ways to do that:

- Wash hands often with warm water and soap
- Disinfect contaminated surfaces with bleach-based household cleaners
- Wash soiled clothing and linens with hot water and detergent
- Stay at home and do not prepare food for others when you are sick to avoid spreading the illness to others

Click on the link on the side for more details about preventing norovirus.


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