Rita Landgraf, Secretary
Jill Fredel, Director of Communications
302-255-9047, Pager 302-357-7498
Date: January 16, 2013
The Delaware Division of Public Health (DPH) is urging the public to take precautions to prevent possible exposure and spread of norovirus, an illness that typically occurs during the winter months. After the first report received on January 3, 2013, DPH has investigated a number of suspected and confirmed norovirus outbreaks. The norovirus is not related to influenza nor linked to the high number of influenza cases so far this flu season.
Gastrointestinal illness caused by norovirus is unpleasant and can be severe for those who are elderly or have an underlying health condition. Symptoms include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and stomach cramping. Some people may experience fever, chills, headache, muscle aches, or a general sense of tiredness. The symptoms can begin suddenly and an infected person may go from feeling well to very sick in a very short period of time. In most people, the illness lasts for one to two days. People with norovirus illness are contagious from the moment they begin feeling sick until at least three days after they recover; some people may be contagious for even longer. Infection can be more severe in young children and elderly people. Dehydration can occur rapidly and may require medical treatment or hospitalization. Although there are no specific medications to treat norovirus, drinking plenty of liquids to prevent dehydration is important.
Noroviruses are easily transmitted by touching a contaminated surface as well as by direct contact with an infected person or by eating food or drinking liquids that have been contaminated with the virus.
The best course of action is prevention. DPH recommends the following steps to prevent exposure to and spread of norovirus.
For more information about norovirus, see the DPH Web site at dhss.delaware.gov/dhss/dph/files/norwalkfaq.pdf.
Delaware Health and Social Services is committed to improving the quality of the lives of Delaware's citizens by promoting health and well-being, fostering self-sufficiency, and protecting vulnerable populations.