The New River Health District for the Virginia Department of Health is reporting multiple outbreaks of norovirus throughout the health district.
In a message to Radford City Schools and other officials, New River Health District Director Dr. Noelle Bissell reported her office is “tracking multiple norovirus outbreaks throughout the [health] district in multiple settings, enough to elevate to epidemic levels.”
“You have all probably had students out with the classic GI symptoms of nausea/vomiting/diarrhea,” she wrote. “It might be a good time to remind staff and parents that ill individuals need to stay home, practicing good hand hygiene is the best measure to prevent the spread of infection, and maybe asking custodial staff to be a little more attentive to disinfectant practices (will also be helpful as flu numbers continue to rise).”
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, (CDC), norovirus outbreaks are common.
“This is because the virus spreads very easily and quickly from infected people to others, and through contaminated foods and surfaces,” reads the CDC website. “Outbreaks happen throughout the year, but they occur most often from November to April.”
Norovirus causes inflammation of the stomach or intestines, called acute gastroenteritis. A person usually develops symptoms 12 to 48 hours after being exposed to norovirus. Most common symptoms include vomiting, diarrhea, nausea and stomach pain. Other symptoms can include fever, headache and body aches. Most people with norovirus illness get better within one to three days.
If you have norovirus illness, you can feel extremely ill, and vomit or have diarrhea many times a day. This can lead to dehydration, especially in young children, older adults, and people with other illnesses.
According to the CDC, there are several ways to protect from norovirus, including:
Wash your hands often
Rinse fruits and vegetables
Cook shellfish thoroughly
Stay home when sick and for two days after symptoms stop
Avoid preparing food for others when sick and for two days after symptoms stop
For additional information, log onto https://www.cdc.gov/norovirus/index.html