October 22, 2014

Norovirus outbreaks not letting up

Iowa Department of Public Health Medical Director Patricia Quinlisk says outbreaks of the norovirus illness continue to spread across the state.

“This virus spreads real easily and we’re just getting more and more outbreaks,” Dr.Quinlisk said. “Last week alone, we had six that we confirmed as norovirus, but there are probably 10 to 100 times as many outbreaks out there as we find out about.”

Norovirus is sometimes called a “stomach bug” as symptoms of the infection usually include diarrhea, vomiting, nausea and stomach cramping. There’s no vaccine and no antibiotics for norovirus.

“The best thing people can do to stop these outbreaks is, when they have diarrhea and vomiting, stay home,” Quinlisk said. “Don’t go to day care, don’t go to school and don’t go to work. This virus spreads so easily…it can actually go through the air. If someone is sick with vomiting, for example, it can go through the air and infect somebody else.”

Reports of norovirus activity in Iowa have increased in recent weeks. Quinlisk said in just the last two weeks, outbreaks have been confirmed in Polk, Johnson, Scott, Black Hawk, Dubuque and Winneshiek Counties.