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Department of Behavioral & Community Health

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February 28, 2013        Print version


Increase in Gastrointestinal Illness in Dutchess County

The Dutchess County Department of Health has received a significant increase in reports of gastrointestinal illnesses within Dutchess County.  Symptoms include: vomiting and/or diarrhea (episodes of three or more within a 24 hour period), nausea, malaise or stomach cramps.  This outbreak appears to be due to a “Norovirus-like” virus.  Norovirus is typically very contagious and persons can become infected by having direct contact with an ill person, eating or drinking contaminated food or liquids, and/or by touching contaminated surfaces and then placing their hand in their mouth.

The DCDOH is recommending the following to help prevent the spread of infection:

• Wash hands thoroughly and frequently with soap and water especially after going to the bathroom, before handling food, eating, and after touching commonly used surfaces (door knobs, shared cooking utensils, etc).  Hand sanitizers are INEFFECTIVE against Norovirus.

• Use of gloves and masks should be used when cleaning vomit and/or diarrhea.

•  People who experience vomiting or diarrhea should remain home.  They should not return to work/school or handle food for at least 72 hours after the last occurrence of vomit or diarrhea.

•  Do not share personal items.

•  Avoid drinking untreated water.

•  Cook shellfish thoroughly before eating.

In addition, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends using paper towels, not a mop, when cleaning vomit. Most household cleaners are ineffective against Norovirus and only a bleach solution of 1/4 cup of household bleach in a gallon of water should be used to clean and disinfect the affected areas.

For more information on Norovirus and how to reduce your risk, please visit:  http://www.cdc.gov/norovirus/index.html

 

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A. K. Vaidian, MD, MPH,Commissioner of Behavioral & Community Health A. K. Vaidian, MD, MPH
Commissioner of Behavioral & Community Health
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