OTTAWA COUNTY, MI – Public health officials are warning residents of a growing threat of norovirus in Ottawa County.
On Thursday, March 14, county officials said a norovirus stomach bug is in circulation quickly, with 215 cases reported at the county level last month. This is an increase compared to zero cases reported in November, December and January and a significant increase compared to each of the three previous years.
Health officials are warning residents of the fast and easily spread stomach virus and reminding them to regularly wash their hands and take other necessary precautions to avoid the disease.
"We are witnessing increases in emergency room visits for stomach upset," said Marcia Mansaray, a senior epidemiologist, in a press release. "Schools, child care facilities and doctors' offices also report more stomach diseases in recent weeks. Outbreaks occur in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities.
" To reduce the risk of illness in our community, people should take preventive measures to stay healthy. "
Norovirus and similar diseases spread by touching surfaces contaminated with vomit or feces. Common epidemic settings are found in enclosed places such as nursing homes, nursery schools, schools, cruise ships, restaurants and catering meals. 1
Anyone can get norovirus and can have it more than once People with norovirus are more contagious from the moment they start feeling sick until a few days after their recovery. Some people may be contagious even longer, officials in the county's health department said.
Below is a list of measures recommended by the county to avoid the norovirus:
- Wash your hands with soap and water, especially after using the bathroom and changing diapers, always wash your hands before eating or prepare food. Hand sanitizers are generally not effective for norovirus.
- Manage and prepare food safely. People with norovirus disease should not prepare food for others while they have symptoms and for at least two days after they are admitted.
- Clean and disinfect contaminated surfaces, such as toilets, counters and door handles. Always clean the entire area immediately after someone with norovirus vomits or has diarrhea. Wear disposable gloves and disinfect contaminated surfaces with a household bleach-based cleaner as indicated on the product label or with a solution of five tablespoons of bleach per liter of water.
- Wash the laundry thoroughly. Remove and wash clothing or laundry immediately which could be contaminated with vomit or faeces. Handle dirty objects with care – try not to shake them – to avoid spreading the virus. If available, wear disposable gloves while handling dirty clothes or laundry and wash your hands after handling
- Stay home if sick for at least 24 hours after symptoms end to avoid spreading the disease to others.