Rhode Island Sees Increase In Norovirus Cases

Ruzanna Harutyunyan's picture
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The Rhode Island Department of Health (HEALTH) advises people that there has been an increase in the number of reported cases of norovirus infections in the state. HEALTH regularly investigates reports of norovirus clusters in licensed facilities and investigates illness complaints associated with food establishments or other licensed facilities. Since January 1, 22 long-term care facilities have reported noro-like illness and HEALTH laboratories have confirmed norovirus in 14. In addition, HEALTH has investigated reports of noro-like illness at two food establishments and confirmed norovirus in foodhandlers at one.

“Norovirus is a common illness, and frequent handwashing with warm water and soap or an alcohol hand gel is essential to stop the spread of the illness,” said Robert S. Crausman, MD, MMS, Chief of HEALTH’s Center for Epidemiology and Infectious Diseases. “It is important that any food handler, healthcare worker or day care worker who has symptoms of norovirus (nausea or vomiting and diarrhea) report the illness to their employer, go home and stay out of work until 48 hours after symptoms have stopped.”

To prevent the spread of norovirus:

* Wash hands with soap and warm water after going to the bathroom or changing a diaper. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand gel.

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* If you are sick, do not touch ready-to-eat food with your bare hands. In a food establishment, utensils or gloves are required to be used for handling ready-to-eat foods.

* If you are a food handler, a healthcare worker or a daycare worker who has symptoms of norovirus, report the illness to your employer, go home and stay out of work until 48 hours after symptoms have stopped.

* Thoroughly clean and sanitize surfaces after someone is sick with norovirus. Use a bleach-based household cleaner. Wash and wipe down the toilet area, faucets and other hard surfaces with a mixture of one tablespoon of bleach to 3 cups of water. If cleaning up vomit or stool, use two tablespoons of bleach to 1 cup water.

* Dispose sewage properly.

* Avoid eating raw shellfish. (The water it came from could be contaminated with norovirus from raw sewage in the water.)

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