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Flu Season is Also the Height of Norovirus, Gastroenteritis Season

Friday, January 29, 2010
Residents are encouraged to practice preventative steps to avoid viruses.

The DC Department of Health (DOH) is reminding residents that the winter months are the height of Norovirus and Gastroenteritis season. Both viruses are considered Gastrointestinal (GI) viruses, which cause people to become severely nauseated and dehydrated. Norovirus is a virus that causes gastroenteritis, which leads to vomiting and diarrhea. Gastroenteritis is sometimes referred to as the “stomach flu”; its causes inflammation of the stomach and intestines and also results in nausea and vomiting. Other symptoms associated with both viruses include:

  • Stomach cramping
  • Low-grade fever
  • Chills
  • Headache
  • Muscle aches and
  • General sense of tiredness

    It is important to remind residents that in addition to flu season, it is also the height of GI virus season. Residents should take extra precaution in making sure they do their part to reduce the chance of infecting others. Although there is no medication or vaccine to help treat and prevent the viruses, the best way to avoid infecting others is by:

  • Frequent hand washing with warm water and soap
  • Promptly disinfecting contaminated surfaces with household chlorine bleach-based cleaners
  • Washing soiled clothing and linens
  • Avoiding food or water from sources that may be contaminated
  • Prompt washing of all contaminated soiled articles of clothing
  • Avoid ingestion of any food or beverages thought to be contaminated
  • Cooking oysters completely to kill the virus

    Infected individuals are advised to drink plenty of fluids in order to avoid dehydration and to remain home and away from work. Viral gastroenteritis and norovirus are very contagious and can both be spread from person-to-person and by sharing contaminated food, drinking and eating utensils. Noroviruses are found in stool and vomit of infected people, this is why it is strongly encouraged that those not infected avoid touching their mouths before hand washing and avoid having direct contact with someone who is infected.

    For information, please select Norovirusor Gastronenteritis. You may also visit www.cdc.gov