About Avoiding This Gastrointestinal Disease
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), all cruise ships participating in the Vessel Sanitation Program (VSP) are required to report the total number of gastrointestinal (GI) illness cases. You may have heard recent news about the Norovirus outbreak just a few weeks ago. In fact, from January to the end of February there have already been 5 reported GI illness cases reported and 3 out of those 5 have listed Norovirus as the causative agent.
Don’t think this disease is isolated to cruise ships, because the CDC states that this illness causes 19-21 million illnesses across the United States on a yearly basis. To know how to protect yourself against this virus, our Urgent Care team feels you should first know how this disease is spread.
You can get Norovirus from an infected person, contaminated food or water, or by touching contaminated surfaces. The virus causes your stomach or intestines, or both, to get inflamed (acute gastroenteritis). This leads you to have stomach pain, nausea, and diarrhea. It’s also highly likely that you will vomit. These protective measures may seem elementary, but are important:
- Carefully rinse fruits and vegetables and thoroughly cook meats by instruction before eating. Don’t eat raw seafood.
- Thoroughly wash your hands before every meal and after every meal. Don’t rely on hand sanitizers alone to the job.
- Don’t eat from anyone else’s plate and don’t drink after anyone else, either.
- Bathrooms house thousands of bacteria. Try flushing toilets with your foot instead of your hands and consider using a paper towel to open the bathroom door.
- Clean and disinfect surfaces.
- Carefully dispose of items like dirty diapers to avoid contamination.
If you do contract Norovirus do not prepare any food for at least 2-3 days after you feel better. No one should eat food that has been prepared by someone who is sick. Get plenty of rest and drink lots of fluids should you find yourself ill from Norovirus.
Note: First Med is a walk-in urgent care medical clinic that provides medical treatment to individuals, families and employers. We provide non-emergency medical care (such as the flu, sore throats, ear infections, minor burns, cuts, scrapes, and minor injuries) from the hours of 8am to 7:30pm, 7 days per week.