What do you want to know

What do you want to know

Norovirus, a highly contagious stomach virus, continues to spread across the United States and is causing schools to close in some localities.

Recent data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggests that positive testing for the virus is at a seasonally high level in the United States. Regionally, spikes in test positivity are occurring in the Northeast at over 16%, the South at over 16%, the West at over 12.5% ​​and around 15% in the Midwest.

Two elementary schools in Petersburg, Va., closed Feb. 17 because of the virus. Authorities said it spread rapidly among students, who were told to log on and complete school assignments from home.

Positive-sense RNA virus called Norovirus. (Debbink et al./PLoS Pathog (CC BY-SA 2.0))

“Pleasants Lane and Lakemont Elementary School will be closed for deep cleaning due to an outbreak of gastrointestinal illness at both schools,” a Petersburg Schools spokesperson told local media on Friday. “Custody staff are focused on cleaning high contact areas to minimize the possibility of transmission.”

Around the same time, the Southern Nevada Health District confirmed 71 cases of norovirus at Wayne N. Tanaka Elementary in the Las Vegas area on Feb. 17, local outlets reported. A letter was sent home to parents last week, but classes were not canceled as a result.

Several days ago, classes at a school in suburban Detroit were canceled due to a virus outbreak among students and staff. St. Michael the Archangel Catholic School in Livonia closed on Wednesday, officials told WXYZ-TV.

A school principal told the Detroit Free Press he believes about 115 students and staff at St. Michael’s have fallen ill this month.

“The first couple of children were sick on Monday. And then on Tuesday we had in a class… about 10 or 12 kids who started throwing up in four hours,” Kathy Nold, co-director, told the newspaper.

In Canada, the Public Health Agency of Canada told the media that reported cases of norovirus have been increasing “both nationally and in several provinces” since January. According to the agency, almost every Canadian province saw an increase, including Newfoundland and Labrador, British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario and New Brunswick.

What Medical Officials Say

In a Sunday opinion piece, Fox News’ Dr. Nicole Saphier wrote that “the number of infections this year exceeds recent years, but the congregation’s shrinkage due to the COVID-19 pandemic most likely contributed. to lower case numbers, and we are now experiencing normal trends preceding COVID-19.

“Every year, one in 15 people in the United States get the norovirus stomach flu; it’s hard to avoid,” Saphier wrote, noting how common the virus is. “If you do get sick, be sure to stay in touch with your doctor and drink plenty of fluids to reduce the risk of dehydration and the consequences of fluid depletion. Do what you can to stop the spread by keeping clean contaminated surfaces and avoiding group settings until 48 hours after complete resolution of symptoms.

Another doctor, located in Boston, echoed Saphier’s statement by saying norovirus is on the rise because the COVID-19 rules are gone.

“The recent cases of norovirus are likely another example of the re-emergence of common infections as we continue to emerge from our COVID-19 shells,” Dr. Daniel Kuritzkes, of Brigham and Women’s Hospital, told NBC10 last week. . “There were periodic localized outbreaks of norovirus infection all the time before COVID, so it’s no surprise we’re seeing them again.”

Dr. Paul Pottinger, a professor in the division of allergy and infectious diseases at UW Medicine in Seattle, said this month that “the current seasonal increase in transmission is likely related to the crowding of people at the indoors, where we are more likely to come into contact with each other, and with objects we have touched.

What is a norovirus?

In a normal year, according to the CDC, norovirus causes between 19 and 21 million cases of vomiting and diarrhea, 109,000 hospitalizations and 900 deaths in the United States. The virus is also associated with about 495,000 emergency room visits, mostly among young children, according to the CDC.

Most outbreaks occur between November and April, the CDC adds. If there is a new strain of the virus, he says, there can be up to 50% more norovirus disease.

Norovirus outbreaks often occur in healthcare facilities, long-term care facilities, restaurants, daycares, schools, and cruise ships.

Noting the association between norovirus outbreaks and cruises, the CDC says more than 90% of “outbreaks of diarrheal disease on cruise ships” are caused by the virus.

“These outbreaks often attract media attention, which is why some people call norovirus the ‘cruise ship virus,'” the CDC’s website says. However, norovirus outbreaks on cruise ships represent only a small percentage (1%) of all reported norovirus outbreaks. Norovirus can be particularly difficult to control on cruise ships due to the close proximity of accommodations, shared dining areas and rapid passenger turnover.

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