Possible Norovirus outbreak at West Brunswick shelter
Bolivia, N.C. (WWAY) — The Brunswick County Health Department is investigating a possible Norovirus outbreak at the West Brunswick Evacuation Shelter.
According to a news release from the county, officials are responding to reports of gastro-intestinal symptoms. Shelter staff is working with the health department and are instituting enhanced cleaning methods and necessary measures.
These reported symptoms are very typical of a Norovirus and the health department has begun its epidemiological work to confirm.
Norovirus outbreaks are caused by a group of related viruses that account for more than 90 percent of gastrointestinal illness outbreaks in the United States each year.
Noroviruses can be found in stool and vomit and are highly contagious. They are known for sweeping through schools, office buildings and other close quarters, and infecting a large number of people. Symptoms of Norovirus illness usually begin about 24 to 48 hours after close exposure to Norovirus and can appear as early as 12 hours after exposure and include:
- Abdominal cramps
- Low grade fever or none at all
People may feel very sick and vomit multiple times and/or have many loose stools a day. Most people get better within 1 or 2 days, and they have no long-term health effects related to their illness. However, shedding of the virus may continue for 1-2 weeks. At times, affected individuals, usually the very young and elderly may become dehydrated as they are unable to drink enough liquids to replace the liquids lost because of vomiting and diarrhea. “Thorough hand washing following toilet use and before handling food is the best way to prevent the spread of these viruses,” Cris Harrelson, director for the Brunswick County Health Department, said in a news release Friday Morning. Contact your doctor to seek advice if your symptoms last longer than a few days or if you already have a serious illness.
The spread of Norovirus can be prevented by practicing proper hand hygiene. Important strategies include washing hands with soap and water, especially after using the toilet and changing diapers and always before eating and preparing or handling food. The community should be aware that with these reported outbreaks folks should use good hand hygiene and stay home if sick until 48-hours without symptoms.