Published On: Sun, Jul 28th, 2013

Norovirus outbreaks result in 120 ill in Washington State

Scores of people have been sickened with the gastrointestinal illness, norovirus, in Whatcom County, Washington, according to health officials.

Bellingham Families reports that the illnesses took place in three clusters to include a local company function, a summer camp at Camp Firwood on Lake Whatcom and a chili cookoff on Lummi Island, all at different times during July.

Norovirus  Image/CDC

Norovirus Image/CDC

Whatcom County Health Department spokesman, Marcus Deyerin said, “Any time you have a gathering of people, if there’s one person that has the virus, it’s what we would call a target-rich environment,” he said. “The person with the virus is able to expose a lot of other people.”

He also called the clusters of the viral disease a controlled outbreak.

Norovirus is a highly contagious viral illness that often goes by other names, such as viral gastroenteritis, stomach flu, and food poisoning.

The symptoms include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and some stomach cramping. Sometimes people additionally have a low-grade fever, chills, headache, muscle aches, and a general sense of tiredness. The illness often begins suddenly, and the infected person may feel very sick. In most people, the illness is self-limiting with symptoms lasting for about 1 or 2 days. In general, children experience more vomiting than adults do.

Norovirus is spread person to person particularly in crowded, closed places. Norovirus is typically spread through contaminated food andwater, touching surfaces or objects contaminated with norovirus and then putting your hand or fingers in your mouth and close contact with someone who is vomiting or has diarrhea.

Norovirus causes more than 20 million illnesses annually, and it is the leading cause of gastroenteritis outbreaks in the United States.

The Whatcom County Health Department offers the following recommendations for the public:

If you or family members are ill with symptoms of this stomach virus, please do the following–

  • Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water. Hand sanitizers are often not effective for these viruses.
  • Do not prepare food for others until you have not had any symptoms of illness for at least 48hours. These viruses can be transmitted in food and water contaminated by individuals who are ill.
  • Thoroughly clean and disinfect the areas where people have vomited or the bathrooms that have been used by ill individuals.
  • Stay home from work, childcare or other settings where there are lots of people. Vomit and diarrhea are very infectious and can come on unexpectedly, exposing others.
  • Do not send ill individuals to camps, parties, swimming areas or other events.
  • Do not visit the elderly, the very young or people who have immune system problems.
  • Dehydration can be very serious for them.
  • Encourage lots of fluids and rest. Most people recover in about 1-2 days. If dehydration occurs or you are concerned about not being able to keep fluids down, please contact your health care provider’s office for advice.

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About the Author

- Writer, Co-Founder and Executive Editor of The Global Dispatch. Robert has been covering news in the areas of health, world news and politics for a variety of online news sources. He is also the Editor-in-Chief of the website, Outbreak News Today and hosts the podcast, Outbreak News Interviews on iTunes, Stitcher and Spotify Robert is politically Independent and a born again Christian Follow @bactiman63

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