July 19, 2018

Norovirus The Gift That Keeps On Giving

It’s norovirus season and health officials in Minnesota are warning folks to take extra precautions so that a nasty illness isn’t among the things they receive during the holidays. Norovirus is a common and highly contagious group of viruses you can catch any time but caseloads peak between November and January.

You can catch norovirus by eating or drinking foods prepared by someone who is infected with the virus, touching contaminated surfaces and then touching food or your mouth; or eating shellfish harvested from contaminated waters. Once ingested, norovirus inflames the stomach lining causing frequent, intense bouts of vomiting and diarrhea paired with severe abdominal cramps. Low-grade fever, chills, muscle aches headache can also occur. Symptoms usually develop one to two days after exposure, but may appear within12 hours.

If you become sick, try to stay hydrated by taking frequent, small sips of water. Wash your hands frequently. Don’t prepare food until you have been sympton-free for three days. Make sure areas where you have been sick are thoroughly cleaned right away. In the bathroom and kitchen, a bleach solution is best.

Those who aren’t ill should wash hands frequently, too. Hand-washing for 20 seconds with warm, soapy water is the primary defense in preventing the spread of norovirus. At holiday gatherings, don’t eat or put your hands to your mouth or face without first washing your hands. Avoid eating raw shellfish.

“If everyone followed these guidelines diligently, we could eliminate the majority of the norovirus outbreaks in Minnesota,” said Dr. Kirk Smith, foodborne disease supervisor at MDH. “The season of giving should also be the season of good handwashing,” he said.

Noroviruses are the leading cause of foodborne illness outbreaks in Minnesota,  sickening thousands of people each year. Two weeks ago, some of the 400 guests  at a wedding in LeRoy were infected. In November, a norovirus outbreak sickened 30 to 40 people who attended the Greater Mankato Growth banquet at the Mankato Civic Center. Health officials identified Najwa’s Catering, the food service provider for the event, as the source of the outbreak. And in January, several clusters of the virus struck residents in Olmstead county.

Comments

  1. Joe Hibberd says:

    Linda —

    I love the article headline. U R 2 funny.

    JH

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