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Pennsylvania Health Department Offers Tips to Prevent Spread of Highly Contagious Norovirus
Date:1/15/2009

HARRISBURG, Pa., Jan. 15 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Outbreaks of viral gastroenteritis, or "stomach flu," are sharply on the rise in Pennsylvania, prompting the Department of Health to offer tips to help prevent the spread of the highly contagious norovirus infection -- a common cause of the illness.

"Norovirus infection is very common this time of year and spreads easily," said state Acting Health Secretary Everette James. "If you have symptoms such as vomiting and diarrhea, you should try to stay home and practice good hygiene, like washing your hands frequently and thoroughly, to avoid spreading the illness to others."

Norovirus symptoms often begin suddenly and can include nausea, stomach cramping, vomiting and diarrhea. Norovirus illness can be a difficult experience for those affected, but most people normally recover within 12 to 60 hours.

Because norovirus is very contagious, sudden outbreaks can result when people bring the infection into facilities such as hospitals, residential and nursing homes and schools. No one who has suffered from vomiting and diarrhea should visit or work in crowded places until they have been completely free from symptoms for at least 48 hours.

The spread of norovirus can be prevented by following some simple guidelines:

  • Frequently wash your hands, especially after using the bathroom and changing diapers, and before eating or preparing food.

  • Anyone ill with diarrhea should not prepare food for other people. In particular, people with diarrhea should not work in restaurants, day care centers, or medical settings unless they are cleared to do so by their doctor or the local health department.

  • Carefully wash fruits and vegetables, and steam oysters before eating them.

  • Thoroughly clean and disinfect contaminated surfaces (including toilets) immediately after an episode of diarrhea or vomiting by using a bleach-based household cleaner.

  • Immediately remove and wash clothing or linens that may be contaminated with virus after an episode of diarrhea or vomiting (use hot water and soap).

For most healthy individuals, drinking plenty of fluids and resting at home is sufficient to recover from a norovirus infection and there is no need for hospital treatment. However, the elderly or very young can sometimes get more severe infections. If this is a concern, consult your doctor.

Because norovirus is not the same as influenza, flu shots do not offer protection against it. For more information about norovirus, go to www.health.state.pa.us.

    CONTACT:  Stacy Kriedeman
    (717) 787-1783



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SOURCE Pennsylvania Department of Health
Copyright©2009 PR Newswire.
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