SUDBURY–In recent weeks the Sudbury and District Health Unit (SDHU) has received reports of increased gastrointestinal illness likely due to Norovirus in daycares and in the community.
Norovirus, also known as Norwalk and Norwalk-like viruses, refers to a family of viruses that are present in the stool and vomit of those infected. It is spread primarily through person-to-person contact, or contamination of food prepared by a person who is currently ill or has been recently ill and did not wash their hands properly.
Norovirus is highly contagious and everyone is susceptible to it. Symptoms of a Norovirus infection have a sudden onset and can include vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, headache, body aches, and sometimes fever. People typically become ill 24 to 48 hours after exposure to the virus, and symptoms usually last from one to two days. People should also remember that they can continue to spread the virus for up to several days after the symptoms stop.
Although there is no specific treatment for Norovirus, drinking plenty of fluids to avoid dehydration is recommended.
“Anyone who has symptoms should stay away from vulnerable people and places such as hospitals, long-term care homes, and daycares to avoid spreading the virus,” said Dr. Penny Sutcliffe, Medical Officer of Health. “Hospital patients and long-term care home residents are particularly at risk due to their potentially weakened immune systems.”
Follow these precautions to help prevent becoming sick with or spreading Norovirus:• Wash your hands thoroughly, especially after using the bathroom, before eating or preparing food, as well as prior to entering and leaving a long-term care home, hospital, or daycare. • Do not handle or prepare food for anyone if you are ill. • Do not visit anyone in a hospital or long-term care home if you are ill. • Stay home if you are ill and for two days after your symptoms stop. • Carefully clean up vomit and feces, wash or discard anything that was contaminated with vomit or feces, and disinfect all surfaces. • Clean and disinfect washrooms and all common hand contact surfaces if there is someone ill in your home.
Improper handwashing allows the virus to be spread through food and objects that an infected person touches. The best way to protect others is through handwashing and by staying home if you are ill. Handwashing posters, videos, and additional information about Norovirus are available on the Sudbury and District Health Unit website at www.sdhu.com or by calling 705-522-9200, ext. 464, toll-free 1-866-522-9200.