Norovirus strain from Australia sickens 3 people in SLO County

dsneed@thetribunenews.comDecember 26, 2012 

Health officials are warning of a new stomach virus that has sickened three people in San Luis Obispo County.

All three of the outbreaks of viral gastroenteritis or stomach flu were caused by a new strain of norovirus, called the GII strain. Two were exposed in restaurants and the third contracted the disease in a long-term care facility, according to the San Luis Obispo County Public Health Department.

The new strain is from Australia. Because the public has had limited exposure to the virus, health officials say it is expected to cause increased illnesses and outbreaks.

“Norovirus is highly contagious and can spread through contact with infected persons, consuming infected food or water or by contact with infected surfaces or objects,” said the health department in a news release.

Symptoms include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, stomach cramps, chills, body aches, fever and fatigue. Preventive measures include hand washing as well as washing fruit and vegetables, thoroughly cooking food and avoiding sharing items with a sick person. Anyone infected with the virus should stay home from work and school.

Noroviruses are the main cause of stomach flu in the United States with 21 million people getting sick each year and causing 70,000 hospitalizations.

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