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State reports Norovirus cases; offers prevention tips

February 11, 2011
CONTACT: Lon Kightlinger, 773-3737 
State reports Norovirus cases; offers prevention tips
PIERRE - South Dakota is seeing a spike in Norovirus cases and state health officials are reminding residents to practice good personal hygiene to prevent the illness.

“We’re seeing individual cases as well as some outbreaks so we want to remind people of the importance of hand washing and proper food preparation,” said Dr. Lon Kightlinger, State Epidemiologist for the Department of Health.
Sometimes called the called the stomach flu or cruise ship virus, Norovirus is highly contagious and spreads quickly in day cares, nursing homes, schools and other close environments. People are infected by eating food or drinking liquids that are contaminated with Norovirus. They can also be infected by caring for or sharing food, drinks, or eating utensils with an infected person or even by touching a contaminated object.
Illness can begin suddenly with stomach cramping, vomiting, or diarrhea. Most people recover within 1 to 2 days and with no long-term health effects. However, Norovirus infection can be more severe for young children, the elderly, and people with other health conditions,
Kightlinger said people can help prevent Norovirus with the following precautions:
·         Practice proper hand hygiene:Wash hands carefully with soap and water, especially after using the toilet and changing diapers and always before eating or preparing food.
·         Take care in the kitchen: Wash fruits and vegetables, and cook oysters and other shellfish thoroughly before eating.
·         DO NOT prepare food while infected: People who are infected with Norovirus should not prepare food for others as long as they have symptoms and until 3 days after recovering from illness.
·         Clean and disinfect contaminated surfaces: After an episode of illness, such as vomiting or diarrhea, immediately clean and disinfect contaminated surfaces with a bleach-based household cleaner or a solution of 5–25 tablespoons of household bleach per gallon of water.
·         Wash laundry thoroughly: Immediately remove and wash clothing or linens that may be contaminated with vomit or fecal matter. Use detergent and wash at the maximum available cycle length and then machine dry.
Learn about noroviurs and how to prevent it at www.cdc.gov/Features/Norovirus/