Norovirus outbreak in Okeechobee

OKEECHOBEE — According to a press release from The Florida Department of Health in Okeechobee County, they are investigating an outbreak of norovirus at a long-term care facility.

Norovirus is the most common cause of acute gastroenteritis in the U.S. Commonly called the stomach flu and food poisoning, norovirus is a highly contagious viral illness that causes stomach pain, nausea, diarrhea and vomiting.

Outbreaks are common because the virus is easily transmitted from person to person. You can get norovirus from an infected person, contaminated food or water, or by touching contaminated surfaces. The best way to help prevent norovirus is to practice proper hand-washing and general cleanliness.

Most people with the norovirus illness get better within 1 to 3 days but can be contagious possibly up to 2 weeks after recovery. The facility is cooperatively working with the department to contain the outbreak at this time.

For more on norovirus visit

Health department warns of norovirus in Okeechobee
February 8, 2018

OKEECHOBEE — The Florida Department of Health in Okeechobee urges Okeechobee health care providers, residents and visitors to be aware of the symptoms of norovirus.
Norovirus is a contagious gastrointestinal illness and has been detected in positive samples in Okeechobee County.
Norovirus causes inflammation of the stomach or intestines or both. This is called acute gastroenteritis.
The most common symptoms are:
• diarrhea,
• throwing up,
• nausea; and
• stomach pain.
Other symptoms may include:
• fever,
• headache, and
• body aches.
Norovirus can be found in your stool (feces) even before you start feeling sick. The virus can stay in your stool for two weeks or more after you feel better.
You are most contagious:
• when you are sick with norovirus illness, and
• during the first few days after you recover from norovirus illness.
You can become infected with norovirus through contact with the stool or vomit of an infected person, for example while caring for an infected person, touching surfaces that have been infected and then putting your fingers in your mouth, or sharing food or utensils with an infected person.
Norovirus outbreaks can also occur from foods, such as oysters, fruits, and vegetables, that are contaminated at their source.
A person usually develops symptoms 12 to 48 hours after being exposed to norovirus. Most people with norovirus illness get better within 1 to 3 days.
If you have norovirus illness, you can feel extremely ill and throw up or have diarrhea many times a day. This can lead to dehydration, especially in young children, older adults, and people with other illnesses. Norovirus can spread quickly in closed places like daycare centers, nursing homes, schools, and cruise ships.
Most norovirus outbreaks happen from November to April in the United States.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, good sanitation is the key to preventing the spread of norovirus. The CDC offers the following tips for preventing the spread of the norovirus:
• Wash your hands. Wash your hands carefully with soap and water, especially after using the toilet and changing diapers. Always wash your hands before handling, preparing or eating food. Alcohol-based hand sanitizers can be used in addition to hand washing but should not be used as a substitute to washing with soap and water, the CDC advises.
• Wash fruits and vegetables and cook seafood thoroughly. Carefully wash fruits and vegetables before preparing and eating them. Cook oysters and other shellfish thoroughly before eating them. Be aware that noroviruses are relatively resistant. They can survive temperatures as high as 140°F and quick steaming processes that are often used for cooking shellfish. Food that might be contaminated with norovirus should be thrown out. Keep sick infants and children out of areas where food is being handled and prepared. When you are sick, do not prepare food or care for others who are sick. You should not prepare food for others or provide healthcare while you are sick and for at least two days after symptoms stop. This also applies to sick workers in settings such as schools and daycares where they may expose people to norovirus.
• Clean and disinfect contaminated surfaces. After throwing up or having diarrhea, immediately clean and disinfect contaminated surfaces. Use a chlorine bleach solution with a concentration of 1000–5000 ppm (5–25 tablespoons of household bleach per gallon of water) or other disinfectant registered as effective against norovirus by the Environmental Protection Agency. A list of disinfectants is available at
• Wash laundry thoroughly. Immediately remove and wash clothes or linens that may be contaminated with vomit or stool (feces). You should handle soiled items carefully without agitating them, wear rubber or disposable gloves while handling soiled items and wash your hands after, and wash the items with detergent at the maximum available cycle length, then machine dry them.

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