Health officials today urged residents to practice good hygiene practices—particularly hand washing—to prevent the spread of viral infections such as norovirus, an intestinal virus that causes nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.
Norovirus is a highly contagious disease that causes nausea, vomiting and/or diarrhea, and stomach cramps. Ill individuals may also have a low-grade fever, chills, headache, muscle aches, and a general sense of fatigue. The treatment for norovirus is rest and fluid replacement. While the symptoms can be severe and unpleasant, the illness usually is not serious for an otherwise healthy individual. Norovirus can be serious for the frail elderly and the very young because of the risk of dehydration.
Norovirus spreads rapidly in the air when people vomit and through the fecal-oral route (not washing hands after using the toilet or changing a diaper and then touching food and other surfaces such as doorknobs, light switches and handrails.) Although ill individuals may only feel sick for one or two days, small amounts of norovirus can cause infections and the virus can live on surfaces for many days. Those who are ill may also continue to spread the virus for as long as a week or more after they begin to feel better.
Norovirus, sometimes called “stomach flu” or the “cruise ship disease”, is not related to influenza that is common in the winter and mainly affects the lungs.
More information about norovirus can be found at http://www.montgomerycountymd.gov/apps/News/press/PR_details.asp?PrID=5107.