With the onset of the new school year, Grinnell Regional Public Health advises taking precautionary steps of handwashing and avoiding school or work while ill to avoiding the spread of illnesses such as noroviruses. Norovirus has been identified in the community.
The most common symptoms are nausea with vomiting, diarrhea, and cramps. People of all ages have these symptoms. Diarrhea is more common among adults; vomiting is more common in children. Many persons (25 to 50 percent) also experience headaches, fevers, chills, and muscle aches. Illness usually lasts 24 to 48 hours. There are no known long-term effects.
According to the Iowa Department of Public Health, there are no treatments for the virus, only symptom management. However, dehydration can be a complication. If you become ill, drink fluids and rest. Do not interact with people until 72 hours after the end of symptoms.
The symptoms may appear 12 to 48 hours after exposure to the virus, but onset may range from 10 to 50 hours after exposure. Norovirus are most commonly spread through the fecal-oral route, either by consumption of food or water contaminated with stool or by direct person-to-person spread. The virus can also be spread by contact with objects contaminated with stool and by spread due to the virus in the air after someone vomits. This may result in droplets landing on surfaces or entering the mouth and being swallowed. Noroviruses are also spread from person to person, especially among family members.
Hand sanitizer is not effective with the norovirus. Soap and water with thorough washing is required to stop the spread of norovirus. People can pass the virus to others while sick, and up to 72 hours after diarrhea has stopped. Anyone ill with diarrhea, vomiting or fever should not work with food, the elderly, in health care, or child care. Anyone working in these occupations who becomes ill with these symptoms should leave work. Food recently prepared by this person should be discarded.
Individuals with norovirus symptoms should take precautions to avoid the spread of the virus. For more information about care, contact your primary care provider. For information about noroviruses, contact Grinnell Regional Public Health at 641-236-2385.