Norovirus appears to be spreading as rate of positive tests spikes: The highly infectious stomach bug, norovirus, has spread throughout the U.S., with outbreaks reported in 14 states including Alabama.
Between August 1 and January 18th this year, there have been 225 outbreaks of norovirus reported across 18 states that supply information about norovirus to the Centers for Disease Control. This number is up approximately 30% from last year when 172 cases were reported during that same timeframe.
Norovirus, commonly misinterpreted as “stomach flu,” is an infectious virus that spreads via contaminated liquids, foods, or surfaces. It also spreads through individuals who become infected.
Norovirus poses risks to everyone but especially vulnerable populations such as young or elderly individuals due to its presence in the feces and vomit of those who have become sick – making handwashing even more important according to CDC recommendations.
At the end of three weeks, the average number of tests for norovirus that returned positive had exceeded 15% – marking a new high since March 2022.
Norovirus, also known as stomach flu, is not related to the flu virus and causes digestive symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and stomach discomfort. Mild fever and aches may also develop from this virus.
A few virus particles can spread illness and make their way through surfaces, hands, or food items as well as water. Infected individuals may carry the virus for days after recovery – possibly up to two weeks, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
On Saturday, The Midwest experienced the highest mean test-positive rate for norovirus among any region, at 19% – higher than any week over the past year.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) monitor norovirus outbreaks through a network of fourteen state departments of health. Though data for this network hasn’t been updated in some time, the latest count shows 25 outbreaks had been reported by January 1, marking the highest total since May 1. Between August and January this year, 225 norovirus outbreaks were reported to the CDC versus 172 during the same timeframe last season.
Kate Grusich, the CDC spokesperson, reported that norovirus outbreaks and reported cases from state health departments and clinical laboratories have increased but remain within the expected range for this time of year.
Norovirus can cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and stomach pain as well as headache, fever, and body aches. Symptoms usually manifest 12 to 48 hours after exposure and most people recover within three days.
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Preventing hand smudges is the best way to protect yourself. Use soap and water for a thorough washdown after using the toilet, taking a shower, changing diapers, cooking or handling food items, and giving someone else or yourself medication.