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Public Health Emerging Issues

March 16, 2020

 

GASTROINTESTINAL ILLNESS REPORTED IN MESA COUNTY

 

  • Mesa County Public Health (MCPH) has seen an increase in gastrointestinal (GI) illness mainly being reported in child cares in Mesa County. 
  • The reported symptoms are very similar to norovirus, a very common and highly contagious GI illness that lasts anywhere between 24 and 72 hours.
  • Norovirus infection can present with any combination of nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, headache, and low-grade fever. Symptoms develop 12 to 48 hours after exposure.
  • There is no specific treatment for norovirus although fluids are important to prevent dehydration. No immunization is available.  
  • You can get norovirus from:
    • Having direct contact with an infected person.
    • Consuming contaminated food or water.
    • Touching contaminated surfaces then putting your unwashed hands in your mouth.
  • Community members who are not feeling well, and who have been sick with vomiting or diarrhea episodes, should not go to work or school until at least 24 hours since the last episode, 48 hours is preferred if possible.
    • It’s also very important that children who are being kept out of school due to illness do not attend child care while they are ill.
  • Appropriate cleaning and disinfection is critical to stopping further spread of norovirus. 
    • Use a 5,000 part per million (ppm) bleach solution (1 cup bleach in 1-gallon water) or a disinfectant approved by the EPA with specific claims for activity against norovirus. 
    • See a list of approved disinfectants here.
  • Frequent handwashing with soap and warm water can help to slow the spread of norovirus, especially after using the toilet, changing diapers, and before eating.
    • Hand sanitizing gels or wipes are not as good at cleaning the hands as proper handwashing, and some are ineffective against norovirus.