100 cases of Norovirus confirmed by Shelby County Health Dept - FOX13 News, WHBQ FOX 13

100 cases of Norovirus confirmed by Shelby County Health Department

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(Courtesy Shelby County Health Department) (Courtesy Shelby County Health Department)
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The Shelby County Health Department has confirmed five outbreaks of the Norovirus. A total of 100 people have caught the highly contagious stomach virus since Feb. 1.

"You may more commonly see it in day cares, care homes, nursing homes, assisted living facilities; we've seen it at schools in the past," said Shelby Co. Health Dept. Health Officer Dr. Helen Morrow, "In the past we've seen it associated with meetings and food. You have to make sure your food is washed very well or somebody that is even serving the food has to have very clean hands."

The virus lasts between two and five days in people, and there are no anti-biotics for it.

"Just treat yourself and try to maintain hydration, plenty of fluids. But try to isolate yourself because as I said it's very, very contagious," said Morrow.

At home, Morrow recommends using special cleaners on hard surfaces where the virus can linger for weeks.

The best defense is washing hands with soap and water. Morrow added, "The alcohol-based hand sanitizers are not as effective in this particular instance, so you really need soap and water."

The Health Department recommends:

  • The best way to avoid getting sick is to wash your hands.
  • Individuals with norovirus are contagious from the moment they begin feeling sick until at least 3 days after they recover.
  • Hand sanitizers are NOT as effective with norovirus. WASH YOUR HANDS!
  • Norovirus symptoms can begin suddenly and those infected may go from feeling well to very sick in a very short period of time.
  • Symptoms of norovirus include: diarrhea, nausea, stomach cramping and vomiting. Some may have chills, fever, headache, and muscle aches.
  • Sick with norovirus? Do not prepare food for others when sick and for at least 3 days afterward.
  • Sick with norovirus? Stay home when you are sick.
  • Did you shake someone's hand? WASH YOUR HANDS. Did you cough? WASH YOUR HANDS. Did you open a door? WASH YOUR HANDS.
  • Suspect a norovirus outbreak in Shelby County? Call our Epidemiology Department at (901) 222-9243.

MORE: Prevent the Spread of Norovirus

Full News Release:

PROPER HANDWASHING: THE BEST WAY TO PREVENT THE SPREAD OF NOROVIRUS

MEMPHIS – Outbreaks of the common and highly contagious gastrointestinal virus known as norovirus have been recently confirmed by the Shelby County Health Department (SCHD), prompting health officials to encourage individuals to take the proper precautions and preventative measures.

Since Feb. 1, SCHD officials have documented five outbreaks.

Norovirus can spread very quickly from person to person in facilities such as daycare centers, hotels, nursing homes, and schools. The virus is transmitted by:

  • Eating or drinking liquids that have been contaminated;
  • Touching contaminated surfaces or objects and then placing hands or fingers in eyes, mouth or nose;
  • Having direct contact with an infected person (i.e. changing diapers, sharing foods or eating utensils).

Symptoms include diarrhea, nausea, stomach cramping and vomiting. Some may have chills, fever, headache, muscle aches and a general sense of tiredness. The symptoms can begin suddenly and those infected may go from feeling well to very sick in a very short period of time. In most, the illness lasts for one or two days. Individuals with norovirus illness are contagious from the moment they begin feeling sick until at least three days after they recover, and some may be contagious longer. Norovirus is especially dangerous in elderly, those with other health conditions and young children. Dehydration can occur rapidly and may require medical treatment or hospitalization.

Antibiotics are not effective in treating symptoms or lessening the severity of norovirus. With no vaccine to prevent norovirus infection, the following are prevention tips to stop the spread of it:

  • Wash hands frequently with soap and water, especially after toilet visits and before eating, preparing or serving food or drink. Hand sanitizers are not as effective against norovirus.
  • Clean and disinfect surfaces contaminated with diarrhea or vomit immediately using a bleach-based household cleaner, or dilute household bleach 1:10 in water (must be mixed fresh daily; never use undiluted bleach).
  • Stay home when sick. Do not prepare food for others when sick and for at least three days afterward.

If individuals suspect an outbreak in an assisted living facility, school, workplace or other "closed communities" where there is a shared food source or contaminant, the SCHD recommends reporting it immediately by calling the Epidemiology Department at (901) 222-9243.

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