May 10, 2013 6:13 PM by MTN News
KALISPELL - Local health officials say they're seeing a jump in gastrointestinal illness caused by norovirus in area schools and long-term care facilities.
Norovirus is a group of virus that causes the majority of gastrointestinal outbreaks in the United States and is associated with nausea, vomiting and diarrhea symptoms. The virus can be spread in food or water, by direct contact between people or with contaminated surfaces.
It only takes a small number of virus particles to cause infection. Someone who has been ill with norovirus, or symptoms to suggest it could be a Norovirus illness, can take actions to prevent the spread to family, friends, co-workers, and people who may be a risk for complications from this illness.
The Flathead City-County Health Department offers the following tips to help prevent the spread of this very contagious virus:
¦Clean hard surfaces that may have been touched by someone with Norovirus with the appropriate cleaner or bleach-based solution.
¦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 (2-3 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 (2 to 3 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 (2 to 3 days) after symptoms end before preparing or sharing food outside the household, such as a group gathering, potluck, or bake sale.
Many people contracting Norovirus become very ill and people with underlying health conditions may experience severe complications, according to a news release.