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Your Healthy Family: Avoiding Norovirus

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The CDC estimates that Norovirus accounts for more than 20 million illnesses each year. The CDC estimates that Norovirus accounts for more than 20 million illnesses each year.
COLORADO SPRINGS -

Norovirus, commonly called the stomach flu, is easily spread and highly contagious. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that Norovirus accounts for more than 20 million illnesses each year.

According to Seth Podolsky, M.D., of Cleveland Clinic, Norovirus can cause some miserable symptoms for those who are affected.

“Norovirus is a type of stomach illness; tends to cause inflammation of both the stomach and the intestines,” Dr. Podolsky said. “The general three things you think about – vomiting, diarrhea, and then belly cramping.”

Dr. Podolsky said Norovirus can be spread almost anywhere people are in close contact with one another.

Most people get it from coming in contact with another person, by shaking a hand, sharing utensils or possibly touching a surface that has been contaminated. Norovirus can live on surfaces and continue to infect those who touch them for hours, days, or even weeks.

Symptoms will usually begin to appear within a day or two and then will last for about two days.  Norovirus cannot be treated with antibiotics and folks who get sick are typically advised to wait it out and rest.  For those who are unlucky enough to catch it, Dr. Podolsky advises drinking plenty of water to avoid dehydration, and to avoid contact with others to keep the illness from spreading.  He said it’s also important to remember that even if symptoms are gone, it doesn’t mean a person is safe to return to school or work.

“Norovirus is actually quite contagious," Dr. Podolsky said. “The key thing to know is to stay away from others a couple of days after the symptoms go away because it tends to still be in your body.”

It’s important to clean and disinfect surfaces in your home after someone has been sick. The CDC recommends cleaning all surfaces and laundry using a combination of bleach and water -- anywhere from five to 25 tablespoons of household bleach per gallon of water should do the trick.

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