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Norovirus Outbreak in the US: What You Need to Know


stomach virus, commonly referred to as norovirus, is currently spreading throughout the northeastern region of the United States, as per data released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the nation’s public health agency. Here’s what you need to know about this outbreak:

Key Facts About Norovirus:

  1. Prevalence: Norovirus causes around 19 to 21 million illnesses annually in the US, with the highest occurrence typically observed from November to April.
  2. Symptoms: Norovirus is identified as the primary cause of vomiting, diarrhea, and foodborne illness in the US. It can affect individuals of all age groups and spreads “very easily and quickly.”
  3. Transmission: The virus spreads through close contact, contaminated food, and surfaces.
  4. Severity: While most individuals recover within one to three days, severe symptoms can include frequent vomiting or diarrhea, leading to dehydration, especially among young children, older adults, and individuals with underlying health conditions.

Recent Outbreak Details:

  • The three-week average of positive tests for norovirus in the northeastern US has reached 13.9% in recent weeks and has remained above a 10% positive rate since mid-December 2023.
  • Norovirus is responsible for around 109,000 hospitalizations and 900 deaths annually, primarily affecting older adults.

Preventive Measures:

  • The CDC recommends:
    • Thorough handwashing with soap and water.
    • Sanitizing surfaces with bleach.
    • Using hot water to launder clothes.
  • Individuals may contract norovirus multiple times throughout their lives due to the existence of various virus strains.

Remember that norovirus spreads easily and outbreaks can happen wherever people gather or serve food. Stay informed, practice good hygiene, and seek medical attention if you experience severe symptoms.

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