September 22, 2020

Norovirus Outbreak in Lake Charles, Louisiana is Spreading

A norovirus outbreak in the Lake Charles, Louisiana are is spreading into two more parishes: Calcasieu and Vernon Parishes, according to a news release by the Louisiana Office of Public Health.  Norovirus is a very contagious virus that spreads easily from person to person.

Norovirus Outbreak in Lake Charles, Louisiana Spreading

The illness caused by norovirus is mistakenly called the “stomach flu,” but norovirus infections are not flu. Symptoms of norovirus include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain and cramps, headache, body aches, a mild fever, and feeling run down. Symptoms usually start a day or two after a person is infected with the virus, and the illness lasts only a few days.

Most people recover completely from this infection, although some, especially the elderly and people with chronic illnesses and compromised immune systems need to be hospitalized. Those people can suffer from dehydration or other complications.

Unfortunately, a person who was infected and has recovered can spread the virus for a long time after they feel better. Dr. Frank Welch, immunization director for the Louisiana Department of Health said in a statement, “People with norovirus can easily spread the illness from the moment they begin experiencing symptoms to several days after they recover. Some people can continue to spread norovirus for up to three weeks. There are no medications to prevent norovirus, which is why frequent handwashing is your best protection.”

If you live in that area and have been ill with the symptoms of norovirus, the health department is asking you to complete a brief online survey to help officials investigation this outbreak. All information will be kept confidential.

To prevent these types of outbreaks, if you are sick, especially with a vomiting or diarrheal illness, stay home from work or school for 24 hours after symptoms have ended. If you are a food handler, that time off work should be extended to 48 hours. Wash your hands well with soap and water after using the toilet, changing diapers, and before preparing or handling food or before eating.

If someone has been sick in your home, clean and disinfect high-touch surfaces and any soiled surfaces with bleach-based household cleaners. Wash clothing thoroughly in hot water; use detergent and use the maximum available cycle length. Machine dry at the highest setting.  Wear rubber or disposable gloves when handling soiled items and wash your hands well after.

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