The Huron County Health Unit is seeing an increase in the number of gastrointestinal illnesses, also called stomach flu, in the community. These illnesses are caused by a norovirus.
Noroviruses cause a sudden onset of nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. Symptoms can also include low-grade fever, chills, headache, tiredness and muscle aches. Such illnesses usually last 24 to 48 hours.
Norovirus spreads easily, usually through person-to-person contact. The virus enters a person’s mouth through contaminated food, water or hands. Hands can become contaminated by close personal contact, sharing objects or touching the same surfaces as someone who has the virus.
“You can avoid spreading norovirus by staying home when sick,” says public health inspector Roxana Nassiri. “If your children are sick, keep them home from daycare until they have been symptom-free for at least 72 hours.”
Healthcare workers, food handlers and caregivers, including daycare staff, should not return to work until at least 48 hours after symptoms have resolved. Nassiri adds that if you feel ill, you should not visit elderly residents in long-term care facilities.
You can also stop the spread of noroviruses by cleaning and disinfecting commonly touched surfaces such as counters, doorknobs, telephones, computer keyboards and remote controls.
Frequent hand washing with warm running water and soap for at least 20 seconds is also a good prevention measure. Hands should be cleaned after using the washroom, after changing diapers, after shaking hands and before preparing and eating food.
You can be re-infected with norovirus even after you have recovered. There is no specific treatment, but it is important to get plenty of fluids when ill to prevent dehydration.