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Norovirus in Elgin County
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December 12, 2013: Elgin St. Thomas Public Health is aware of an increased number of cases of stomach (gastrointestinal) illness in the community. The most common symptoms include nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea, but can also include headache, abdominal cramps, and rarely, fever. Symptoms usually last 24 to 48 hours and sometimes longer depending on the cause.

Although these illnesses are often referred to as "stomach flu", they are not caused by the influenza virus or any other respiratory virus. The most common cause is Norovirus. A doctor can usually make a diagnosis based on symptoms. Sometimes a stool specimen is collected and tested. Treatment of the illness commonly includes drinking more fluids and getting plenty of rest.

Norovirus is very infectious. The virus can also live for a long time on surfaces. The illness often spreads person to person when sharing food, water or personal items such as utensils and/or touching items that have the virus on them. When viruses like Norovirus affect schools, they spread rapidly and often result in high levels of student absenteeism.

To prevent the spread of Norovirus infection, follow these simple steps:

  • Clean your hands often, using soap and water or alcohol based hand rub after using the bathroom, changing diapers and before preparing food.
  • Frequently clean and disinfect high touch surfaces such as door handles, computer keyboards, and phones. Bathrooms should be cleaned and disinfected at least once per day and more often if possible. Cleaning involves the use of soap and water; you can disinfect surfaces by wiping them down with commercial wipes that are labeled disinfectant.
  • Avoid making food for others when you have symptoms like nausea, vomiting, and/or diarrhea.
  • Stay home from work and/or school for at least 48 hours after your symptoms have ended.

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