Norovirus, the plague of cruise ships, is also known as the winter vomiting bug. It is highly contagious and is starting to circulate this winter. Michigan is being especially hard hit. There are also cases showing up in Wisconsin, Ohio, Connecticut, California and Oregon.

What Are the Symptoms of Norovirus?

Symptoms come on suddenly with severe vomiting and diarrhea. Victims may also have headaches, stomach cramps and fever.

Can You Avoid Norovirus?

To prevent the spread of norovirus, conscientious handwashing is critical. A few years ago, researchers at the University of Arizona studied the spread of viruses by using a bacteriophage virus that resembles norovirus in size and shape (Sassi, American Journal of Infection Control, July 1, 2015). They put the test virus, which is noninfectious but easily detected, on a single door knob or table at the start of several research days in office buildings and a health care facility in Tucson.

Throughout each day, they sampled other surfaces such as light switches, tap handles, bed rails or computer equipment. Nearly two-thirds of the surfaces studied had been contaminated within the first few hours of the day.

The lead researcher, Chuck Gerba, PhD, determined that washing hands and using disinfectant wipes could stop this predictable spread almost completely. All we need to do is convince everyone to use these simple strategies. As your mother probably told you countless times, wash your hands. Don’t rely on hand sanitizer, as it does not work well against this virus. Scrubbing with soap and water works better.

Don’t Forget to Disinfect:

However, washing up may not be enough, since flushing the toilet can spread infectious droplets around the bathroom. Consequently, the CDC recommends that bathroom surfaces be cleaned frequently with a bleach-based cleanser (or one cup of bleach in a gallon of water) to disinfect them. A sick person should not cook for or care for others, as that might spread norovirus. In addition, food should be cooked completely, and laundry should be washed thoroughly with hot water.

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