Flu cases are waning; norovirus is sporadic
The number of reported cases of seasonal influenza and flu-like illness in the area is declining, according to Morgan County Health Department and War Memorial Hospital officials.
Morgan County Health Department nurse Patty Caldwell said the flu seemed to be at bay right now.
She had one or two cases of flu or flu-like symptoms reported last week and nothing reported over the weekend. There were a handful of cases reported the previous week.
War Memorial Hospital Community Relations Officer Lyn Goodwin said that they were also seeing a decrease in the number of cases of flu-like illness at the emergency room.
Goodwin said they hadn’t had any reports of norovirus lately. Caldwell said she’d heard unofficial reports of people in the community being sick here and there with suspected norovirus, but that the health department had no confirmed cases reported.
Reports of norovirus outbreaks have increased across the United States and a new strain of norovirus is being seen across the country, according to the Centers for Disease Control.
Norovirus is a virus that attacks the stomach and intestines and causes gastroenteritis, an inflammation of the stomach and intestines. The illness often comes on suddenly with symptoms of nausea, stomach cramping, vomiting and diarrhea.
To prevent infection by norovirus, Caldwell advised that everyone routinely disinfect countertops, bathrooms, tables, doorknobs, utensils, dishes, laundry and toothbrushes and other high-touch items such as light switches and computer keyboards.
A 1:10 solution of bleach to water is the preferred disinfectant if the setting and/or item allows during a norovirus outbreak. Other hospital-approved Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-registered disinfectants that are effective against norovirus can also be used. Cleaning surfaces first with detergent to remove particulate matter is advised.
To prevent norovirus, the Centers for Disease Control recommends washing hands carefully with soap and water, especially after using the toilet and changing diapers, and always before eating, preparing or handling food.
Hand sanitizers can be used in addition to hand washing, but shouldn’t be used as a substitute for washing hands with soap and water.
Fruits and vegetables should be washed before being prepared or eaten. Seafood should be cooked very thoroughly.
If you are sick, don’t prepare food for others or care for others until at least two or three days after you’ve recovered.
Immediately wash clothing and linens that may be contaminated at maximum wash cycle length and machine dry.
Wear rubber or disposable gloves when handling soiled items and wash hands with soap and water right away.
Keeping surfaces and household disinfected is also recommended to prevent the spread of influenza.