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Norovirus in Lake County

posted Jan 31, 2012, 8:06 PM by Brian Donahoe

Health officials in Lake County are cautioning residents to practice preventive measures to avoid getting gastroenteritis caused by norovirus, which has already affected many residents.

Nine outbreaks have been reported in Lake County in January, eight in long-term care facilities and one in a day care facility, the Lake County Health Department said. There were 16 similar outbreaks in 2011; 25 in 2010; and 16 in 2009.

The latest outbreak was reported the weekend of Jan. 14-15 at Lake Forest Place, where 50 staff members and 36 residents were treated. The department has also received reports of norovirus in Gurnee, Lake Barrington, Libertyville, Lincolnshire, Long Grove and Waukegan.

The virus causes gastroenteritis and is often called the “stomach flu” or “food poisoning.” Symptoms usually last a few days but are often severe, the health department said.

People generally spread the virus while experiencing vomiting or diarrhea, especially from the moment they begin feeling sick to at least three days after symptoms end.

Here are some tips to protecting yourself:

Wash your hands for 20 seconds, especially after using the bathroom, changing diapers, before eating and before preparing food.

Carefully wash fruits and vegetables, and steam oysters before eating them.

Thoroughly clean and disinfect contaminated surfaces immediately after an episode of illness by using a bleach-based household cleaner.

Immediately remove and wash clothing or linens that may be contaminated with the virus after an episode of illness (use soap and hot water).

Flush or discard any vomit and/or stool in the toilet and make sure the surrounding area is kept clean.