Stomach Virus Spreading In Shelby County

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( Memphis) The Shelby County Health Department is asking everyone to take precautions against a common and contagious stomach virus spreading called the Norovirus.

It's being reported around the county in schools and assisted living centers, and nursing homes.

The Shelby County Health Department has reported four outbreaks since January first.

Norovirus is easily transmitted by touching a contaminated surface as well as by direct contact or by eating food or drinking liquids that have been contaminated with the virus.

The virus is notoriously difficult to kill with normal cleaning and disinfecting procedures.  Surfaces that have been contaminated with stool or vomit should be cleaned immediately and disinfected with a freshly prepared diluted bleach solution or a bleach-based household cleaner.

Symptoms include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and stomach cramping.  Some may have fever, chills, headache, muscle aches and a general sense of tiredness.

The symptoms can begin suddenly and infected person may go from feeling well to very sick in a very short period of time.  In most people, the illness lasts for one or two days.

People with norovirus illness are contagious from the moment they begin feeling sick until at least three days after they recover.  Some people may be contagious longer.

Infection can be more severe in young children and the elderly.  Dehydration can occur rapidly and may require medical treatment or hospitalization.

To prevent the spread of norovirus:

Wash hands frequently with soap and water, especially after toilet visits and before eating, preparing or serving food or drink.  Hand sanitizer is not as effective against norovirus.

Clean and disinfect surfaces contaminated with vomit or diarrhea immediately using a bleach-based household cleaner, or dilute household bleach 1:10 in water (must be mixed fresh daily; never use undiluted bleach).

Stay home when sick.

Do not prepare food for other people when sick and for at least three days afterward.

If you suspect an outbreak in an assisted living facility, school, workplace, etc., report it  immediately to the Shelby County Health Department by calling (901) 222-9000.