While the world still battles the coronavirus epidemic, another has reared its ugly head. On February 6, 2020, medical experts reported of a norovirus outbreak in Lake Charles, a city in Louisana. According to the experts, around 200 people have self-reported having symptoms of the virus. However, there are certain measures that can be taken to reduce the spread of the extremely contagious stomach bug.
Health Department Confirms Outbreak of Norovirus
The Louisiana Department of Health has confirmed the outbreak of an extremely contagious stomach bug called norovirus. It also outlined that the spread began from L'Auberge Casino, and several people who attended events in the Casino were infected.
Furthermore, the actual number of confirmed cases is unknown. However, a survey issued by the health department revealed that 200 people self-reported that they have experienced symptoms of the virus. And these symptoms, as listed by medical experts, include mild fever, a run-down feeling, abdominal pain, body ache, nausea, and vomiting
According to Dr Lacey Cavanaugh, Medical Director for the State Health Office in Lake Charles:
"How it started at this point doesn’t really matter anymore, because now we are getting transmission within the community. So, however, people picked it up in that setting they are now taking it home and spreading it from one family member to another family member to another family member."
Preventive Measures to Stop the Spread of Norovirus
People have, therefore, been advised to take certain measures to reduce the spread of the virus. These measures include:
- Stay indoors for 24 hours after symptoms such as vomiting and diarrhoea have stopped.
- Stay home from work for 48 hours after symptoms have stopped - if you're a food handler.
- Stay home for 48 hours after symptoms have stopped - if you're a healthcare provider, or you work closely with children.
- Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and warm water before eating, or handling food. Also, wash your hands after using the toilet or changing diapers.
- Clean and disinfect surfaces using a bleach-based household cleaner.
- Wash your clothes thoroughly using hot water, especially if it is soiled with diarrhoea or vomit.
- Carefully handle soiled items without agitating them.
- Put on protective rubber or disposable gloves while working with soiled items and wash your hands afterwards.
- Use detergent and hot water to wash the items at the maximum available cycle length. Machine dry at the highest heat setting.
Norovirus and Coronavirus Pose Fears
It is, however, worth noting that this recent outbreak is not creating as much tension as coronavirus, a severe acute respiratory infection. According to the CDC, norovirus is the leading cause of foodborne illnesses.
Nonetheless, it is rarely a life-threating virus even though it can cause dehydration or death in those with compromised immune systems. And an average of 56,000–71,000 hospitalizations, 570–800 deaths, and 400,000 emergency department visits in the U.S. is caused by norovirus.
Coronavirus Infects Over 34,000 People, Kills 722
The coronavirus, on the other hand, was discovered in Wuhan, a city in China. As of February 8, 2020, the virus has reportedly infected 34,546 people and led to the death of 722. The virus also led to the death of Dr Li Wenliang, a medical expert who had warned of about it in December, but whose warnings fell on deaf ears.
The 34-year-old Wuhan doctor, reportedly, died while treating infected patients in the country. In line with that, the government has been blamed for downplaying the severity of coronavirus. Several Chinese residents posted videos online claiming that there have been more deaths to the virus, than what is being circulated on the news
What's more, coronavirus has also spread to 25 countries including the U.S., and the UK. The list also includes Asian countries such as Malaysia, Singapore, Japan, Hong Kong, Philippines, and Thailand.