Health Department Emphasizes Norovirus Awareness

GREENFIELD – The norovirus, caused by the influenza virus, has experienced a recent uptick in cases locally and nationwide. The Greenfield Health Department is reminding the community about the impacts of norovirus and ways individuals can help further prevent its spread.

Norovirus is a highly contagious virus and the leading cause of vomiting and diarrhea. It spreads from infected people, contaminated food or water, or surfaces. Anyone can get it and there is no vaccine for it. Even if you’ve been infected before, it doesn’t protect you from getting it again from a different strain.

While vomiting and diarrhea are the most common symptoms, other symptoms include stomach aches or pains, nausea, fever, headaches and body aches. Diarrhea can cause dehydration, especially in children. You may see a younger child in pain cry with no tears.

A few common steps to prevent norovirus include:

  • Wash hands well with soap and water
  • Clean and disinfect surfaces with bleach
  • Wash laundry in hot water
  • Rinse fruits and vegetables thoroughly
  • Cook foods, especially vegetables and shellfish, thoroughly; norovirus is resistant to high heat, so steaming sometimes does not kill the virus
  • If you’re infected, do not prepare food for others

“The norovirus continues to be everpresent locally and across the nation,” said Health Director Michael Theroux. “We encourage the community to be mindful of its presence. We also implore those dealing with common norovirus symptoms to take the necessary precautions to avoid further spread of the virus.”

There are no specific treatments for norovirus. Antibiotics won’t help because they fight bacteria, not viruses. Drink plenty of liquids, especially sports drinks that can help with dehydration, and avoid caffeine and alcohol. Norovirus symptoms usually pass in one to three days but an infected person can continue to spread the disease several days after. If you’ve been sick, stay home at least two days after your symptoms subside.