New Mexico health officials are warning of increased norovirus activity in the state and advising the public take precautions, particularly around the very young, elderly and immunocompromised who are at risk for more serious illness due to norovirus infection.
Noroviruses cause gastroenteritis and inflammation of the stomach and intestines. It is often mistakenly referred to as the “stomach flu”. Common symptoms of norovirus infection include vomiting, diarrhea, and stomach cramping. Less common symptoms can include low-grade fever or chills, headache, and muscle aches. Symptoms usually begin 1 or 2 days after exposure to the virus. Most people recover in 1 or 2 days and have no long-term health effects. People with norovirus should drink plenty of fluids to avoid dehydration, which can be a concern in the very young, the elderly, or people with weakened immune systems.
“Washing your hands is one of the best ways to protect yourself from norovirus and other viruses that are circulating,” said Department of Health Cabinet Secretary Retta Ward,MPH. “If you have norovirus infection, stay home to avoid passing it on to others and stay away from people in hospitals and long-term care facilities.”
The New Mexico Department of Health offers the following recommendations to decrease the risk of getting a norovirus infection: Wash your hands with, soapy water for 20 seconds after using the bathroom, after changing diapers, before preparing foods and before eating; Wash your hands more often when someone in your household is sick; clean and disinfect surfaces with a household bleach solution immediately after vomiting or diarrheal accidents and avoid preparing food for others while you have symptoms and for at least 3 days after you recover.
Noroviruses are very contagious. They are found in the stool (feces) or vomit of infected people. From there, noroviruses are transferred to food, water, or surfaces by the hands of infected people who have not washed adequately after using the bathroom.