Cases of norovirus have been occuring around New Mexico, and health officials are recommending that everyone take precautions against the infection, especially around the very young, elderly and immunocompromised who are at risk for more serious illness due to norovirus infection.
They said no deaths have been attributed to these infections, but several hospitalizations have occurred.
"Washing your hands is one of the best ways to protect yourself from norovirus," said State Epidemiologist Michael Landen, M.D. "If you have norovirus infection , stay home to avoid passing it on to others and definitely keep away from people in long-term care facilities."
To decrease the risk of getting a norovirus infection, the department recommends that you:
· Wash your hands with warm, soapy water for 20 seconds
- After using the bathroom
- After changing diapers
- Before preparing foods
- Before eating
· Wash your hands more often when someone in your household is sick.
· Clean and disinfect surfaces with a household bleach solution immediately after vomiting or diarrheal accidents.
· Avoid preparing food for others while you have symptoms and for at least 3 days after you recover.
· Avoid visiting loved ones in long-term care facilities if you are ill.
Noroviruses are viruses that cause gastroenteritis and inflammation of the stomach and intestines. It is often mistakenly referred to as the "stomach flu". Common symptoms of norovirus infection include vomiting, diarrhea, and stomach cramping. Less common symptoms can include low-grade fever or chills, headache, and muscle aches. Symptoms usually begin 1 or 2 days after exposure to the virus. Most people recover in 1 or 2 days and have no long-term health effects. Dehydration can be a concern in the very young, the elderly, or people with weakened immune systems.
Noroviruses are very contagious. They are found in the stool (feces) or vomit of infected people. From there, noroviruses are transferred to food, water, or surfaces by the hands of infected people who have not washed adequately after using the bathroom.
People become infected with norovirus by:
· Eating food or drinking liquids contaminated by an infected person.
· Touching contaminated surfaces or objects and then touching their mouth or eating without washing their hands first.
If you have norovirus you should:
· Drink plenty of fluids so you don't become dehydrated.
· Wash your hands often and do not prepare food for others.
· Stay away from hospitals and long-term care facilities where there are individuals who could have more serious complications.