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Advice on Minimizing Risk of Contracting and Spreading Noroviruses

Armen Hareyan's picture

The norovirus has recently received much attention in Indianapolis and across the nation after the highly contagious and hard to eliminate virus was linked to the illnesses of more than 400 individuals. While the norovirus generally does not impact this many individuals at one time in a single setting, norovirus is an on-going public health issue in Indianapolis. Since November, the health department and local hospital emergency rooms have been receiving reports of norovirus symptoms among those living in long-term care facilities.

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Noroviruses are found in the stool or vomit of infected people. People can become infected with the virus through eating contaminated foods or liquids, touching contaminated surfaces or objects and then placing their hands in their mouth or having direct contact with another person who is infected and showing symptoms.

Prevention measures that can reduce the risk of contracting a norovirus include:

  • Frequent and thorough hand washing, especially after using the bathroom, after changing diapers and before preparing and eating food. Thorough hand washing includes using soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds.
  • Carefully washing fruits and vegetables.
  • Thoroughly steaming oysters before eating them.
  • Thoroughly cleaning and disinfecting all surface areas while someone in the household or workplace have symptoms. This includes using a 10 percent bleach solution (1 part household bleach to 9 parts water).
  • Using hot water and soap to wash any clothing, bedding materials or other linens that may be contaminated.
  • Carefully flush or discard any vomit and / or stool in the toilet, ensuring the surrounding contact surfaces are cleaned and disinfected.

Persons who are infected with norovirus should not prepare food while they have symptoms and refrain from food preparation for at least three days after the symptoms have ended. If there are infected persons in a household, the Marion County Health Department recommends that restrooms and other common surfaces be cleaned frequently with a bleach solution of 1 part household bleach to 9 parts water. Common surfaces include toilet handles, toilet seats, faucet handles and door knobs.