It’s peak norovirus season. Here’s what you can do to avoid getting sick

EAST PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Now that we’re at the height of norovirus season, the Rhode Island Department of Health is encouraging people to take steps to avoid getting sick.

Norovirus is a very contagious illness that may also be referred to as viral gastroenteritis, stomach flu or food poisoning. Symptoms include diarrhea, vomiting and stomach pain.

While the virus is most commonly spread in schools, daycare centers and nursing homes, health officials say anyone can contract it.

“People can become infected by eating food or drinking liquids that are contaminated with norovirus, touching surfaces or objects that are contaminated with norovirus, and then placing their hand in their mouth, having direct contact with an infected person,” the Health Department says.

The good news, according to the Health Department, is that symptoms typically end within two days. However, children, older adults and people with compromised immune systems have an increased risk of dehydration.

Here are some tips from the Health Department to prevent contracting norovirus:

  • Use proper hygiene: Wash your hands with soap and water, especially after using the bathroom or before or after eating. An addition (not a substitute) of alcohol-based hand sanitizer can also help combat harmful bacteria.
  • Be careful in the kitchen: Wash fruits and vegetables before cooking or eating them. Cook any shellfish before eating them.
  • Limit activity if you’re infected: Do not prepare food for others while you have norovirus symptoms to avoid the spread of the illness.
  • Disinfect: After a sick episode, clean any surfaces that may have been contaminated with bleach-based cleaner.
  • Wash Laundry: Any clothing that is contaminated should be washed immediately to limit the spread of the virus.

The Health Department also noted that although we’re in peak norovirus season, the number of cases are on par with recent years.

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