XENIA — Greene County Public Health (GCPH) officials are reminding residents to wash their hands to prevent the spread of illnesses like norovirus, known as “the stomach bug.”
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that the average person will get norovirus, or the “stomach bug” or “stomach flu,” five times in their lifetime and that there are more than 20 million illnesses each year.
GCPH Epidemiologist Don Brannen reports that since 2001, Greene County has had 20 outbreaks of norovirus with 569 persons ill.
According to a GCPH release, norovirus is very contagious and anyone can become infected and sick. A person can get norovirus by having direct contact with an infected person, consuming contaminated food or water, or touching contaminated surfaces then putting unwashed hands in the mouth.
Health Commissioner Melissa Howell reports that persons remain contagious for several weeks after symptoms have stopped.
“Only a few viral particles can cause illness, so it is important that persons wash their hands, handle and prepare food safely including don’t prepare food for others, and clean and disinfect surfaces when someone vomits or has diarrhea,” Howell said.
The most common symptoms are diarrhea, vomiting, nausea, and stomach pain and will usually begin to appear within a day or two of being exposed, and then will last for about two to three days, GCPH officials say. Outbreaks are common and can happen anytime, but they occur most often from November to April.