Norovirus outbreaks reported in Alabama assisted living facilities and schools, ADPH

Published: Apr. 5, 2023 at 11:34 AM CDT
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DOTHAN, Ala. (WTVY) - Over the last month, some Alabama schools, day cares and assisted living facilities experienced Norovirus outbreaks according to the Alabama Department of Public Health.

In the previous four weeks leading up to March 29, 2023 there were 11 norovirus-like or norovirus outbreaks reported to the ADPH Infectious Diseases and Outbreaks Division.

This virus is one of several infectious illnesses that causes gastro-intestinal symptoms like vomiting, diarrhea, and fever.

Dr. Wes Stubblefield said it is very contagious. The virus spreads rapidly person to person through contamination like hands, surfaces, and objects.

Health experts recommend a person with Norovirus or who is experiencing those symptoms, drink plenty of liquids to replace fluid loss and prevent dehydration.

Dr. Stubblefield said most GI illnesses resolve without seeking medical care. He said the reason for someone to seek medical attention is if they develop symptoms like dehydration. This is typically more common for the elderly, young children, and those with underlying health conditions.

A person usually develops symptoms 12 to 48 hours of exposure and most people with the norovirus illness get better within 1 to 3 days, according to the CDC.

Dr. Stubblefield shares some advice to keep in mind to prevent catching or spreading this virus.

“We recommend people keep their hands clean, especially when they are caring for someone,” Dr. Stubblefield said. “If children are in diapers or have trouble cleaning themselves they [caretakers] need to make sure they sanitize surfaces. Make sure if you have these symptoms that you are cautious with things like preparing food, and make sure you keep your hands clean and other surfaces cleaned.”

Dr. Stubblefield said if you do have Norovirus like symptoms, it may difficult to tell if it is Norovirus or another virus.

“If people come into contact with someone who has vomiting and diarrhea it may be unlikely that you would know that it is norovirus unless it was part of a particular outbreak,” Dr. Stubblefield said. “As many times, people with vomiting and diarrhea aren’t tested for the particularly dozens of viruses that may cause these symptoms.”

The CDC reports there is no vaccine to prevent norovirus infection and no drug to treat it.

To prevent getting or spreading Norovirus the CDC encourages people to practice proper hand hygiene, wash foods like fruits, vegetables and seafood thoroughly, disinfect contaminated surfaces, and wash laundry thoroughly.

The CDC also advises those who are sick to not prepare food or care for others.

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