Norovirus on the Rise in Schools, Long-term Care Facilities

By Beacon Staff

The Flathead City-County Health Department has reported a recent increase in the norovirus in local schools and long-term care facilities.

Norovirus is causes gastrointestinal distress, and is usually associated with unpleasant symptoms such as pain, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the virus causes the stomach or intestines or both to become inflamed, called acute gastroenteritis.

Anyone can contract norovirus, and it is possible to have norovirus illness multiple times over one’s life, according to the CDC. The virus is extremely contagious, transmitted by infected persons, contaminated food and water or by touching contaminated surfaces.

Norovirus illness can be especially serious for children or older adults, and people with underlying health conditions who contract norovirus may experience severe complications.

The Flathead City-County Health Department has multiple recommendations to prevent the spread of this virus:

• Clean hard surfaces that may have been touched by someone with Norovirus with the appropriate cleaner or bleach-based solution. Please see www.flatheadhealth.org for our cleaning suggestion brochure.

• Wash hands thoroughly and frequently with soap and water, and especially after using the bathroom, changing diapers, caring for someone who is ill, before eating, and before preparing food.

• Stay home when ill.

• Wait 48-72 hours (two to three days) after symptoms end before returning to normal work duties especially for food handlers, health care workers, or day care workers. Notify supervisors or employee health at workplace of illness.

• Wait 48-72 hours (two to three days) after symptoms end before visiting a relative or friend who is in the hospital, nursing care facility or assisted living, or must stay at home due to a medical condition.

• Wait 48-72 hours (two to three days) after symptoms end before preparing or sharing food outside the household, such as a group gathering, potluck, or bake sale.

For more information, visit the Flathead City-County Health Department website at www.flatheadhealth.org or call 751-8101.

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