Influenza and Norovirus are on the Upswing in Shasta County
Shasta County Public Health has been receiving informal reports of increased school absenteeism due to illness. This upswing is mostly caused by a normal progression of influenza this season and an increase in Norovirus cases.
The flu is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses. It can cause mild to severe illness, and at times can lead to death. The best way to prevent the flu is by getting a flu vaccination each year. Four cases of influenza A in Shasta County have been confirmed by the Shasta County Public Health Laboratory this season. Norovirus has also been confirmed in the Public Health Laboratory locally. Noroviruses are a group of viruses that cause what is commonly known as the "stomach flu," or gastroenteritis (GAS-tro-en-ter-I-tis), in people.
"It's not possible to obtain specific numbers of these diseases as they are not routinely reported to Public Health as for some other communicable diseases," said Lou Anne Cummings, MD, MPH. "Our role is to prevent the spread of these diseases by emphasizing vaccination and good hygiene."
Since influenza is a respiratory illness, Shasta County Public Health urges ill people to cover their coughs, wash hands frequently and stay home while sick. If you haven't had your flu shot yet, it's not too late. Pregnant women, their families, school-age children, and healthcare workers are especially encouraged to obtain a flu shot from a health care provider, or at any Public Health office. High-risk individuals are more vulnerable for complications and hospitalization from the flu.
The symptoms of Norovirus illness usually include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and some stomach cramping. Sometimes people additionally have a low-grade fever, chills, headache, muscle aches, and a general sense of tiredness. The illness often begins suddenly, and the infected person may feel very sick. In most people the illness is self-limiting with symptoms lasting for about 1 or 2 days.
Currently, there is no antiviral medication that works against Norovirus and there is no vaccine to prevent infection. Norovirus infection cannot be treated with antibiotics because antibiotics work to fight bacteria and not viruses. You can decrease your chance of becoming ill with Noroviruses by following these preventive steps: