Stomach virus still plaguing Cabarrus

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Posted: Thursday, March 28, 2013 3:30 pm

KANNAPOLIS, N.C. – A stomach virus, known as the norovirus, continues to plague people across Cabarrus County and around the state, according to health officials.

“School nurses in both Cabarrus County Schools and Kannapolis City Schools are reporting students with vomiting, diarrhea and flu-like symptoms,” according to Kim Ragan and Alice Luttman, school nurse supervisors. “It’s definitely still out there and parents should be aware of it.”

The Cabarrus Health Alliance (CHA) and the N.C. Department of Health issued a press release this week warning people to take steps to avoid the spread of the illness.

“Cabarrus Health Alliance continues to receive sporadic calls from individuals stating they have symptoms, but nothing has been confirmed for norovirus this year,” said Tamara Staehler, a communicable disease nursing supervisor. “Most people believe they have the stomach flu or a ‘bug’ and rarely get tested.

“Our office provided an update to Cabarrus County doctors offices on March 20 so they are aware of signs and symptoms should they see an influx in their offices,” Staehler said.

The norovirus causes acute gastroenteritis with symptoms that include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, cramping and low-grade fever, according to CHA.

The virus is easily spread through tiny droplets of material in the air and spreads most quickly in small space such as daycares, schools and assiste- living facilities, official said. Symptoms usually last 24 to 60 hours.

There is no drug or treatment for the norovirus, but health officials said it is important to drink plenty of liquids to avoid dehydration.

The recommended steps to avoid spreading the virus include good hand washing with soap and water for at least 20 second, especially after using the bathroom or changing a diaper, and before eating, preparing or handing food. If water is not available, using an alcohol based sanitizer is recommended.

Officials said it is important to wash fruits and vegetables and to cook seafood thoroughly. Also anyone who is sick should not be preparing food for others for two to three days after you recover.

Cleaning your home with a mixture of bleach and water is also a good idea to get rid of germs, according to CHA. Bed sheets and linens should also be washed.

For more information about the illness is available at the Cabarrus Health Alliance www.cabarrushealth.org and at the Centers of Disease Control www.cdc.gov/norovirus.

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