Another Norovirus OutbreakDec 5, 2008 | Parker Waichman LLP
Another Norovirus Confirmed
Another norovirus outbreak has been confirmed. This time 24 people have fallen ill in Michigan after attending a private party at the Marshall Lanes bowling alley, says the Battle Creek Enquirer. Authorities expect the germ to spread among the group, Paul Makoski, environmental health program coordinator told the Battle Creek Enquirer. "It isn't too surprising because this is the season that it is on the rise."
According to Makoski, a norovirus outbreak occurs when more than two unrelated people become “infected by the same agent. Makoski noted that because norovirus looks and feels like a stomach flu, it is often unreported and pointed out that it can easily spread before symptoms appear, "What they don't realize is that they feel good, but they still are infecting other people," he told the Battle Creek Enquirer.
Food Poisoning Ruled Out
Food poisoning was ruled out as a possible cause following a health department investigation in which the bowling alley was found to not be responsible for the outbreak, said the Battle Creek Enquirer. "I got sick, too," Sue Hutchings, Marshall Lanes co-proprietor, said to the paper, adding, "I definitely feel awful about all the people getting ill at our business, but I'm glad the health department found it wasn't because of our food."
"You feel like you've been run over by a truck," Makoski told the Battle Creek Enquirer, noting that norovirus causes diarrhea, vomiting, and stomach cramps. The paper added that norovirus, which spreads through vomit and stool, contains “trillions of virus particules” with only 10 particles needed to cause illness. There is no vaccine for norovirus, the best defense is regular hand washing, especially before eating or after using the bathroom, Makoski told the Battle Creek Enquirer, adding that there is also no cure except to "tough it out, drink lots of wate,r and take care of the symptoms."
Norovirus is actually a group of viruses that cause the stomach flu, or gastroenteritis, in people; are not helped by treatment with antibiotics; and cannot grow outside of a person’s body. People can become infected with the virus by eating food or drinking liquids that are contaminated with norovirus; touching surfaces or objects contaminated with norovirus, and then placing their hand in their mouth; and having direct contact with another person who is infected and showing symptoms (for example, when caring for someone with illness, or sharing foods or eating utensils with someone who is ill). Persons working in day-care centers or nursing homes should pay special attention to children or residents who have norovirus illness.
People may feel very sick and vomit many times a day, but most get better within one-to-two days, and suffer no long-term health effects; however, sometimes people are unable to drink enough liquids to replenish the liquids lost due to vomiting and diarrhea and can become dehydrated and require special medical attention. This typically occurs with the very young, the elderly, and persons with weakened immune systems. To decrease your chance of coming in contact with norovirus frequently wash your hands, especially after toilet visits and changing diapers and before eating or preparing food; carefully wash fruits and vegetables, and steam oysters before eating them; thoroughly clean and disinfect contaminated surfaces immediately after an episode of illness by using a bleach-based household cleaner; immediately remove and wash clothing or linens that may be contaminated with virus after an episode of illness (use hot water and soap); and flush or discard any vomitus and/or stool in the toilet and make sure that the surrounding area is kept clean.
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