Washtenaw and Calhoun counties in Michigan have recently been reporting outbreaks of Norovirus (Norwalk), although it doesn’t seem for certain where the illness originated in either county yet.
The Washtenaw County Health Department reported on February 5th that the contagious virus has been quickly through the county, seemingly in clusters. Officials believe that Norovirus has been circulating through the county for approximately one month. County Epidemiologist Laura Bauman called Norovirus “extremely unpleasant” and advised residents to take extra care to help with Norovirus prevention.
In Calhoun County, the Health Department is investigating reports of Norovirus. Officials with the department believe that most of the suspected cases exist in schools, nursing homes and school aged children. They urge that residents contact their doctor with any questions or concerns.
Norovirus produces stomach-flu like symptoms, including diarrhea, nausea and abdominal pain. Some people may also experience body aches, headache or low-grade fever. It is usually a foodborne illness spread through contaminated foods due to improper handling and sanitary habits of those responsible for preparing and manufacturing foods.
Norovirus bacteria can live on surfaces for days. It is recommended that all surfaces that may be contaminated be wiped down with bleach and water. Many people mistakenly believe that Clorox wipes and other household cleaners will kill the bacteria. In order to determine if a cleaner will kill the virus, the active ingredient must contain sodium hypochlorite or NaOCI.
Health officials recommend that frequent hand-washing be part of a routine to avoid the spread of Norovirus. Those who are ill and believe they may have the virus should avoid preparing foods. Officials in Washtenaw county also advised day care and restaurant workers to be diligent when it comes to disinfecting, and to clean often.
Those most at risk for serious complications from Norovirus food poisoning include young children, those with a compromised immune system, and the elderly or those in nursing homes. Malnutrition, severe dehydration and even death may occur in those at high risk.
If you or a loved one become ill with Norovirus, contact a New York food poisoning attorney to learn what your rights are, and if you may be eligible for compensation for expenses associated to your illness.