Yolo County Health Advisory: GI Illness Outbreak in the County
Contributed by Carol Huang
On Friday, May 5th, 2017, the Yolo County Health & Human Services Agency advised residences to take precautions to limit spread of a GI Illness Outbreak.
County health authorities are investigating whether reports of illness at UC Davis and elsewhere are the result of Norovirus.
Norovirus are a group of related viruses that can cause gastroenteritis, inflammation of the stomach or intestines or both. This leads to diarrhea, throwing up, nausea, stomach pain; other symptoms like fever, headache and body aches. These symptoms can be serious for some people, especially young children and older adults. A person usually develops symptoms 12 to 48 hours after being exposed to norovirus. Most people with norovirus illness get better within 1 to 3 days.
Norovirus is a very contagious virus that can infect anyone. It also spreads quickly. It can be found in stool (feces) even before a person starts feeling sick. The virus can stay in stool for 2 weeks or more after infected person feel better. One can be infected by person to person contact, contaminated food or water, or by touching contaminated surfaces.
Norovirus is the leading cause of illness and outbreaks from contaminated food in the United States. Most of these outbreaks occur in the food service like restaurants. Infected food workers are frequently the source of the outbreaks, often by touching ready-to-eat foods, such as raw fruits and vegetables, oysters, with their bare hands before serving them. However, any food served raw or handled after being cooked can get contaminated with norovirus
Noroviruses are relatively resistant. They can survive temperatures as high as 140°F and quick steaming processes that are often used for cooking shellfish.
According to CDC, each year Norovirus causes 19 to 21 million illnesses, 56,000 to 71,000 hospitalizations and 570 to 800 deaths, mostly among young children and the elderly
It is estimated that a person will get norovirus about 5 times during their lifetime. Many people usually get sick with norovirus in cooler months, especially from November to April.
There is no specific medicine to treat people with norovirus illness.
For preventing Norovirus infection: practice proper hand hygiene; carefully wash fruits and vegetables before preparing and eating them. Cook oysters and other shellfish thoroughly before eating them.