Health officials from New Mexico are warning about increased norovirus activity in the state, and are advising the residents to undertake necessary precautions- particularly to the young, elderly and immunocompromised individuals who are at a higher risk of being infected by the virus.
Noroviruses are basically viruses that cause gastroenteritis and lead to inflammation of the inner linings of the stomach and the intestines. An infection by this virus is commonly mistaken as ‘stomach flu’ due to the fact that its symptoms including diarrhea, vomiting and stomach cramps resemble that of stomach flu.
Norovirus infection is also thought to cause certain less common symptoms such as chills, headache, muscle ache and low grade fever. These symptoms usually begin within a couple of days of exposure to the virus, and the individuals infected usually get better within 2-3 days without any long-term health effects.
Doctors recommend that people infected with the virus should consume plenty of fluids to avoid dehydration, particularly among the young, the elderly and individuals with weakened immune systems.
“Washing your hands is one of the best ways to protect yourself from norovirus and other viruses that are circulating,” said Department of Health Cabinet Secretary Retta Ward, MPH. “If you have norovirus infection, stay home to avoid passing it on to others and stay away from people in hospitals and long-term care facilities.”
The following steps for precautions have been put forth by the New Mexico Department of Health to prevent getting infected by the norovirus-
- Wash your hands properly with an antibacterial solution or handwash for 20 seconds after using the toilet or after changing diapers.
- Wash your hands thoroughly before consuming foods and also before preparing it.
- If someone in your household is infected by the virus, wash your hands more often and clean and disinfect the surfaces of your house with an disinfectant solution, particularly after an event of diarrhoea and vomiting.
- If you are experiencing any of the symptoms yourself, avoid preparing food for others for atleast 3 days or after the symptoms disappear.
It is important to note that noroviruses are very contagious and are found in the stools and vomit of infected individuals. Contact with any of these can get them transferred to food, water or surfaces, after which they may enter the bodies of health people and infect them.