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Acute Communicable Disease Control

    

Acute Communicable Disease Control


Contact Information
County of Los Angeles
Department of Public Health
Acute Communicable Disease Control
313 N. Figueroa Street, Room 212
Los Angeles, CA 90012
Phone: (213) 240-7941
Fax: (213) 482-4856
E-Mail:acdc2@ph.lacounty.gov
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Acute Communicable Disease Control
Gastrointestinal Illnesses - Noroviruses

Recent Updates

Norovirus Outbreak Prevention Toolkit: A Guide for Preventing Norovirus Outbreaks in Skilled Nursing Facilities (10-12-12)
Norovirus Presentation: Norovirus in Skilled Nursing Facilities (12-10-12)
Facts About Norovirus

What Is Norovirus?

Noroviruses are a group of viruses that cause gastroenteritis (GAS-tro-en-ter-EYE-tis) in people. Gastroenteritis refers to an inflammation of the stomach and intestines.

Signs and Symptoms

The symptoms of norovirus illness usually include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and some stomach cramping. Sometimes people additionally have a low-grade fever, chills, headache, muscle aches, and a general sense of tiredness. The illness often begins suddenly, and the infected person may feel very sick. In general, children experience more vomiting than adults. Most people with norovirus illness have both diarrhea and vomiting. The illness is usually brief with symptoms lasting for 1 or 2 days.

Transmission

Noroviruses are found in the stool (feces/poop) or vomit of infected people. People can become infected with the virus in several ways, including:

  • eating food or drinking liquids that are contaminated with norovirus
  • touching surfaces or objects contaminated with norovirus, and then placing their hand in their mouth
  • having direct contact with another person who is infected and showing symptoms (for example, when caring for someone with illness, or sharing foods or eating utensils with someone who is ill)
Persons working in day-care centers or nursing homes should pay special attention to children or residents who have norovirus illness. This virus is very contagious and can spread rapidly throughout such environments.

Treatment

Currently, there is no antiviral medication that works against norovirus and there is no vaccine to prevent infection. Norovirus infection cannot be treated with antibiotics. This is because antibiotics work to fight bacteria and not viruses.

Norovirus illness is usually brief in healthy individuals. When people are ill with vomiting and diarrhea, they should drink plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration. Dehydration among young children, the elderly and the sick, can be common, and it is the most serious health effect that can result from norovirus infection. By drinking oral rehydration fluids (ORF), juice, or water, people can reduce their chance of becoming dehydrated. Sports drinks do not replace the nutrients and minerals lost during this illness.

Prevention

Steps to prevent noroviruses include:
  • Frequently wash your hands (vigorously, with soap and warm water), especially after toilet visits and changing diapers and before eating or preparing food.
  • Carefully wash fruits and vegetables, and thoroughly cook shellfish (the virus is killed above 60C /140F, freezing does not kill it)
  • Thoroughly clean and disinfect contaminated surfaces immediately after an episode of illness by using a bleach-based household cleaner.
  • Immediately remove and wash clothing or linens that may be contaminated with virus after an episode of illness (use hot water and soap).
  • Flush or discard any vomitus and/or stool in the toilet (with the lid down) and make sure that the surrounding area is kept clean.
  • Persons who are infected with norovirus should not prepare food while they have symptoms and for 3 days after they recover from their illness.
  • Immediately remove and wash clothing or linens that may be contaminated with virus after an episode of illness (use hot water and soap).
  • Food that may have been contaminated by an ill person should be disposed of properly.
For more information about noroviruses visit the following websites:

Los Angeles County Acute Communicable Disease Control
Fact Sheet for Skilled Nursing Facilities

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
Norovirus Page
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