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Norovirus on the Rise; Take Precautions Now

doctor2COLUMBIA, S.C. – With the arrival of the peak of norovirus season (January-March), the South Carolina Department of Health and Environment Control warns S.C residents of the dangers of norovirus.

“Symptoms of norovirus infection include diarrhea, vomiting, nausea and stomach cramping,” said David Young, foodborne epidemiologist with DHEC. “Noroviruses are a group of related viruses that affect the stomach and intestines and are the most common cause of stomach and intestinal inflammation, also known as gastroenteritis, in the U.S.”

Young said that the virus was easily spread through a variety of ways including eating foods or drinking liquids contaminated with the virus, touching contaminated surfaces or objects and then your mouth, or having direct contact with an infected person.

“There is no vaccine to prevent norovirus infection,” Young said. “To prevent getting the virus, wash your hands carefully with soap and water, especially after using the toilet and changing diapers, and always before eating or preparing food.”

If you contract the virus, Young also suggests preventing its spread to others by not preparing food for at least three days after the symptoms cease, cleaning soiled areas with a bleach-based household cleaner and using extreme care while handling soiled linens, making sure to wear gloves if necessary.

For more information on norovirus, please contact your local health department or visithttp://www.scdhec.gov/health/disease/gastroenteritis-norovirus.htm . Additional information is also available at the CDC website at http://www.cdc.gov/Features/Norovirus/ .