Syracuse (WSYR-TV) - A dangerous strain of a gastrointestinal virus is spreading through the country. Norovirus is highly contagious and the CDC says there have already been 140 cases in the US. Symptoms can be debilitating: vomiting and diarrhea that can lead to dehydration.
The strain showing up this year is aggressive, highly contagious, and can infect anyone.
Upstate Medical University’s Dr. K. Bruce Simmons says, “It does spread quickly and it stays around a long time.”
Unlike many infectious diseases, ingesting a very small amount – just 18 particles – of this virus can make you sick. In one gram of fecal matter, the CDC says there are up to five billion infectious doses.
Norovirus is extremely hardy. Lasting extended amounts of time on counter tops, plates and in laundry. It hasn't been found in Central New York yet, but it travels easily.
Doctors say washing your produce is especially important because even though the virus isn't here, it can travel on things like food you buy at the grocery store.
It's most commonly found in confined communities, like in nursing homes and on cruise ships.
Dr. Simmons says, “It's hard to get rid of once it's here. So it takes some extraordinary measures to disinfect once it's being spread around a community. And often, people don't take the right precautions.”
Hand sanitizer is not nearly enough to keep you healthy. Doctors say it may not work at all against this virus. Extremely thorough handwashing is the best way to prevent you and your family from getting sick.
Doctors say you can still spread the virus up to three days after symptoms are gone. So if you can, stay home from work or school one extra day to prevent spreading.