Health

Norovirus outbreaks reported by state public health department

(File photo) Devices used to take blood pressure, temperature, and examine eyes and ears rest on a wall inside of a doctor's office in New York March 22, 2010.  (REUTERS/Lucas Jackson)
(File photo) Devices used to take blood pressure, temperature, and examine eyes and ears rest on a wall inside of a doctor's office in New York March 22, 2010. (REUTERS/Lucas Jackson)

The Iowa Department of Public Health has received “numerous reports” of outbreaks caused by the norovirus over the past several weeks, officials stated in a news release Tuesday.

According to the department, noroviruses are “the most common case of acute gastroenteritis in the United States.”

The virus traditionally occurs more frequently in the winter months when people are in closer contact.

The illness typically lasts about two days and victims usually recover with no long-term health effects, state health officials said.

Symptoms of norovirus, which usually begin 24 to 48 hours after infections, include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, chills and low-grade fever. The most common health complication from the illness is dehydration, so those infected are encouraged to drink plenty of fluids.

Sometimes commonly known as the stomach flu, noroviruses are not the same as influenza and cannot be prevented by a flu vaccine.

It also is easily spread.

“Norovirus spreads very easily when people fail to stay home when ill with diarrhea or vomiting, and when they don’t wash their hands after going to the bathroom,” the release stated. “It can also easily spread to large numbers of people and cause large outbreaks when people prepare food while ill.”

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The Department of Public Health states that anyone with symptoms should stay home to prevent the spread to others. Officials also caution that anyone who has been sick with norovirus to not prepare food for others at least two days after their symptoms have gone away as it can spread even after symptoms stop presenting.

Individual outbreaks are not reportable, the department said.

l Comments: (319) 368-8536; michaela.ramm@thegazette.com

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