As if the flu weren’t bad enough, now a nasty norovirus is also spreading across the country bringing sufferers symptoms such as stomach pain, vomiting and diarrhea. The American Red Cross has steps people can follow to protect themselves from the virus.
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), a new strain of norovirus is the leading cause of outbreaks in the United States and the agency will be watching the situation closely. The norovirus is more contagious than the flu and can survive and remain on hard surfaces for weeks. Symptoms include diarrhea, vomiting, nausea, stomach pain and in some cases fever, headache and body aches.
WASH YOUR HANDS “One of the easiest steps you can take to keep yourself and loved ones healthy is to wash your hands properly, especially after using the bathroom or when preparing food,” said Jeffrey Pellegrino, PhD, EMT-B, member of American Red Cross Scientific Advisory Council. “For visibly soiled hands, first wash with soap and warm water.”
When using soap and water:
If using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer:
Wash everything from fruits and vegetables to any contaminated surfaces including clothes. Norovirus stays on surfaces so use a bleach-based household cleaner to clean and disinfect contaminated surfaces. Follow the product directions on the label. Another step is to wash and machine dry any soiled laundry, either wearing gloves to handle the items or washing your hands after doing so.
FLU UPDATE Meanwhile influenza is declining in some regions but increasing in others. Flu activity is down in the South, Southeast, New England and Midwest but on the rise in the Mid-Atlantic, Southwest and Northwest. The common signs of influenza are rapid onset of high fever, severe body aches, headache and being extremely tired.
STEPS TO PREVENT FLU The CDC recommends a yearly flu vaccine for everyone six months of age and older as the first and most important step in protecting someone against flu viruses. In addition to getting vaccinated, the Red Cross has steps people can take to help prevent the spread of the flu virus:
CALL THE DOCTOR If you think you have the flu, consult your health-care provider. Ask to know if an antiviral may be appropriate for those who live with you. Seek medical care immediately if you develop any of the following symptoms:
You can find more information about how to help keep you and your loved ones protected by visiting redcross.org/FluTips.