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Norovirus outbreak in three facilities; 129 people ill

WOODSTOCK – An outbreak of norovirus has been reported after 129 people became ill in three long-term care facilities, according to the McHenry County Department of Health.

Fourteen cases of norovirus, which is highly contagious, have been confirmed and five people  have been hospitalized. MCDH spokeswoman Debra Quackenbush declined to release the names of the facilities where the virus was found, but said that their administrators are cooperating and taking steps to prevent it from spreading.

Unlike influenza, which is an upper respiratory virus, noroviruses are generally the culprit that causes what is referred to as "stomach flu." It affects the intestinal tract and causes nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. Symptoms usually last between 24 and 48 hours.

Norovirus is common but can be fatal in rare cases, particularly when the person has a compromised immune system, Quackenbush said. The illness, which easily transfers from person to person, cannot be treated with antibiotics.

To prevent the spread of the norovirus, the MCDH recommends:

• Frequent hand washing, especially after using the toilet and before eating and preparing food.
• Thorough cleaning and disinfecting of high-touch areas, such as phones, railing and tables, using a bleach-based household disinfectant.
• Immediately removing and washing clothing or linens that may be contaminated with diarrhea or vomit by using hot water and soap.

More information on norovirus is available at www.cdc.gov.

 

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