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Norovirus hits Southwest Georgia

ALBANY, Ga. -- While the seasonal flu is still making its rounds, another bug is making its presence felt in Southwest Georgia.

Norovirus, which causes about 20 million gastroenteritis cases each year in the United States, has been noted in the Southwest Public Health District in recent weeks, public health officials say.

Jacqueline Jenkins, epidemiologist with the health district, said Thursday that officials were working with nursing home facilities in Albany and Thomasville that have seen 60 residents and 15 staff members impacted so far.

"We are concerned because it is in long-term care facilities. In this population, there is (greater potential for complications)," she said. "In these facilities, we take it very seriously."

Norovirus illness is sometimes called "food poisoning" or "stomach flu." There is no vaccine to prevent the infection, public health officials say, and there is no drug to treat people who get sick from the virus.

Antibiotics will not help someone with norovirus because antibiotics fight bacteria, not viruses.

The current outbreak reflects what area officials would typically see, and the infection will generally last one to two days in a population where everyone is healthy, Jenkins said.

Facilities that allow for close contact with a large number of people, including nursing homes, schools and day care centers, have the greatest potential for an outbreak, Jenkins said. The illness can be serious in young children, the elderly and people with other health conditions -- and can lead to severe dehydration, hospitalization and even death.

Way to reduce the chances of getting norovirus include:

  • Wash hands carefully with soap and water, especially after using the bathroom or changing diapers. If soap and water aren't available, use alcohol-based hand sanitizer;
  • Carefully wash fruits and vegetables, and cook oysters and other shellfish thoroughly before eating them;
  • People with norovirus illness should not prepare food for others while they have symptoms and for three days after they recover;
  • After throwing up or having diarrhea, immediately clean and disinfect contaminated surfaces by using a bleach-based household cleaner as directed on the product label. If no such cleaning product is available, use a solution made with five tablespoons to 1.5 cups of household bleach per one gallon of water;
  • Immediately remove and wash clothing or linens that may be contaminated with vomit or stool. Handle soiled items carefully, disturbing them as little as possible, to avoid spreading the virus. If available, wear rubber or disposable gloves while handling soiled clothing or linens and wash hands after handling. The items should be washed with detergent at the maximum available cycle length and then machine dried.

Symptoms of norovirus infection usually include diarrhea, throwing up, nausea and stomach cramping. Less common symptoms may include low-grade fever, chills, headache, muscle aches and general sense of fatigue. The virus is spread through the stool or vomit of infected people, and is generally contracted by people eating food or drinking liquids that are contaminated, touching surfaces or objects that are contaminated and placing their hand in their mouth or having direct contact with someone else who has the virus.

Comments

Bethany2012 1 year, 9 months ago

all I can say is that this one is not fun to deal with :(

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VSU 1 year, 9 months ago

Are there any viruses fun to deal with? :)

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Sister_Ruby 1 year, 9 months ago

Well the AIDS virus is supposedly fun when it gets transferred but it's a B**** from there on out.

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ZCorp 1 year, 8 months ago

I think you should say your sorry. People who have aids for real would not like your joke. What about kids born with aids ? Huh ? Did not consider that with your sick joke ? Very Sad. Find God. Peace

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RedEric 1 year, 9 months ago

Sister, you are one sick puppy.

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tocar 1 year, 9 months ago

If people would stay home when they get sick there would be less transferred.

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VSU 1 year, 9 months ago

Someone called me a wimp once because I didn't come to work because I was sick with the virus. I said "Look buddy, it's not about me, I didn't want to come to work and spread the virus germ to everybody else, but if you miss me so bad, come on over and watch the football game with me. Then you can be the jerk that goes to the office and spread the virus to everybody."

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dickyboy 1 year, 9 months ago

Yes Sister it can be a pain in the butt......

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