Norovirus is spreading across the US. Learn the symptoms, how long the stomach bug lasts, and how to avoid catching it.
Norovirus cases are on the rise in the US, according to the CDC.
The stomach bug causes symptoms including diarrhea and vomiting.
The CDC says to wash hands with soap and water rather than using sanitizer to prevent it spreading.
Norovirus cases are on the rise in the US, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data shows — and hand sanitizer won't protect you from getting sick.
The latest CDC data shows there were 225 outbreaks of the common stomach bug between August 1, 2022 and January 8, 2023. This is compared to 172 during the same period in the previous year, according to the CDC.
Kate Grusich, CDC spokesperson for the NoroSTAT program that monitors the spread of the bug, told Insider on Tuesday: "Reported norovirus outbreaks and reported cases from both state health departments and clinical laboratories are increasing but remain within the expected range for this time of year."
According to the CDC, there are 19 to 21 million cases of vomiting and diarrhea illnesses caused by norovirus each year. Around 900 people die from the virus, mostly people aged 65 and over.
There is no sign of a new variant spreading, as the dominant strain tracked in outbreaks by the CDC is the "Sydney," variant, which has been around for years, according to Vox.
Hand sanitizer doesn't stop the spread of norovirus
Norovirus, also known as stomach flu, spreads very easily and it only takes small particles of the virus to contaminate a person, according to the CDC.
This happens when someone accidentally consumes particles of vomit or feces from an infected person. For example when someone eats food that has been handled by an infected person, when a person touches infected surfaces and then puts their hands in their mouth, or if objects contaminated with norovirus are placed on surfaces, which in turn contaminates the surface.
Certain Lysol and Clorox products can kill norovirus
The CDC notes that hand sanitizer does not work well against norovirus and should not be used as an alternative for hand washing.
To stop the spread of norovirus, the CDC recommends washing hands regularly with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds, especially after using the toilet or changing diapers, and also before eating or handling food, or giving or consuming medicine.
When it comes to cleaning, a chlorine bleach solution with a concentration of five to 25 tablespoons of household bleach per gallon of water will work against norovirus, the CDC states. The Environmental Protection Agency features a list of bleaches that work against norovirus on their site, including Lysol and Clorox.
Vomiting and diarrhea are symptoms of norovirus
The most common symptoms of norovirus, according to CDC, are diarrhea, vomiting, nausea, and stomach pain. Other symptoms can include fever, headache, and body aches.
A person will usually get symptoms within 12 to 48 hours of being in contact with the virus, which will last between one and three days.
Diarrhea and vomiting can both cause dehydration, which can lead to further symptoms such as peeing less, a dry mouth, and dizziness. For norovirus in toddlers and children, they may cry with few tears if they are dehydrated. It is therefore important to consume enough liquids if infected with the virus.
There are no medicines that treat norovirus, and the CDC recommends drinking liquids to prevent dehydration for the time being.
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