Reports of the Norovirus have caused great concern across the country and in Fulton County. With 21 million cases per year, reported by ABC news, the strain of severe stomach flu is said to be extremely contagious.
Over the last few weeks, the Fulton County Department of Health and Wellness has investigated several outbreaks of gastrointestinal disease associated with food service establishments, and the norovirus is believed to be the culprit.
In the ABC News report, Dr. Richard Besser said the virus can be easily picked up on an escalator if a person riding touches a place on the rail that was touched by someone two weeks prior.
The Department of Health and Wellness says the most important step in controlling the spread of the virus is regular hand washing with soap and water. Noroviruses are easily transmitted by touching a contaminated surface as well as by direct contact, or by eating food or drinking liquids that have been contaminated with the virus.
Noroviruses are notoriously difficult to kill with normal cleaning and disinfecting procedures, such as hand sanitizers. Surfaces that have been contaminated with stool or vomit should be cleaned immediately and disinfected with a freshly prepared diluted bleach solution or a bleach-based household cleaner.
Symptoms include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and stomach cramping. Some may have fever, chills, headache, muscle aches and a general sense of tiredness. The symptoms can begin suddenly and an infected person may go from feeling well to very sick in a very short period of time. In most people, the illness lasts a few days or longer.
There is no specific treatment for norovirus. People infected with the virus should drink plenty of liquids to replace fluid lost through vomiting and diarrhea.
Because of these circumstances the CDC recommends that employees of food service establishments remain vigilant in executing the following procedures:
- Do not prepare food while sick or three days after the illness ends
- Wash hands carefully and frequently with soap and water
- Wash fruits and vegetables and cook shellfish thoroughly
- Clean and disinfect kitchen utensils, counters, and surfaces that may have norovirus on them
- Wash table linens, napkins and other laundry thoroughly
For more information about norovirus, visit the CDC website at www.cdc.gov/norovirus/.