Emmet County Public Health sent out a release Thursday stating the community of Estherville is experiencing a significant increase in vomiting and diarrhea illness with the diagnosis of Norovirus. Norovirus is the most common cause of foodborne illness (vomiting and diarrhea) in the United States.
The illness is characterized by nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and cramps and usually lasts 24-48 hours. A few people may experience headache, fever, chills and muscle aches. There are no known long term effects.
The illness is spread through fecal-oral route, by consumption of food or water that is contaminated. It can be spread by contact with contaminated objects. It is spread from person to person, especially among family members. It is vitally important that the ill person not prepare food for two weeks after illness.
People can pass the virus to others while sick, and up to 72 hours after diarrhea has stopped. For this reason it is important that people remain at home for 24 hours after their last episode of diarrhea. For health care workers and food handlers this time would increase to 3 days.
Good hand washing is vital to prevent illness. Gel hand cleansers are not as effective against this virus. Use warm water and soap and rub the hands together for at least 20 seconds.
There is no specific treatment for this illness. Rest and staying away from other people is important while having symptoms.
If you have questions concerning this illness please call the Emmet County Public Health Office at 1-712-362-2490 and ask to speak to Linda Woldruff, RN or Sharon Hooge, RN.