Seasonal influenzas and COVID-19 aren’t the only viruses present in our communities this winter. Viral gastrointestinal illnesses (such as norovirus), can include diarrhea, vomiting, nausea, and stomach pain, are uncomfortable, communicable (can be spread to others easily) and are on the rise. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there has been an uptick in positive tests for norovirus since late January.
Norovirus tends to be seasonal (winter-time) and are spread when someone gets exposed to infectious material from an ill person by touching contaminated surfaces or items (like doorknobs, elevator buttons, diapers) and then touching your mouth. Most people with this virus do recover within 1-3 days but health officials urge ill individuals to stay home and away from others for at least 24 hours after vomiting and/or diarrhea have stopped.
Protect yourself from norovirus and other gastrointestinal viruses by doing the following:
- Wash your hands often.
- Disinfect contaminated and high-touch surfaces with bleach-based household cleaners.
- Rinse fruits and vegetables.
- Cook shellfish thoroughly.
- Wash soiled clothing and linens with hot water and detergent.
- Avoid preparing food for others when sick and for two days after symptoms stop.
While there is no specific treatment for these viruses, the following may help:
- Hydrate (drink). It is critical to take small sips to ensure you do not get dehydrated.
- If symptoms continue, seek medical attention right away to rule out serious gastrointestinal issues or conditions.
Learn about handwashing and other important health information by visiting the Fairfax County Health Department website.