Within the past month, a new strain of Norovirus has caused at least three outbreaks of illness in San Luis Obispo County, two in restaurants, and one in a long-term care facility. All three outbreaks were caused by a new variant of Norovirus, the GII strain. Noroviruses are the primary cause of viral gastroenteritis in the United States, and the leading cause of foodborne illness. Each year, Norovirus infection causes an estimated 21 million illnesses in the United States, and 70,000 hospitalizations.
With limited or no previous exposure in communities, this new strain of Norovirus from
Australia is expected to cause increased illness and outbreaks within communities. Norovirus is highly contagious, and can spread through contact with infected persons, consuming infected food or water, or by contact with infected surfaces or objects. Symptoms of Norovirus can include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, stomach cramps, chills, headaches, body aches, fever, and fatigue.
The best way to prevent the transmission of Norovirus is to practice regular and thorough hand washing, and avoid sharing items with ill persons. Because Norovirus is so highly transmissible, it is recommended that persons who are experiencing the symptoms of Norovirus stay home, and not attend work or school.
If you believe you have been infected with Norovirus, your primary care provider can provide testing. Treatment consists of rest and hydration.