On January 24, the CDC reported that over 130 cases of the “GII.4 Sydney” norovirus strain had been confirmed in the United States. Also known as the stomach flu, or viral gastroenteritis, the new strain first appeared in Australia in March 2012.
An article in the Washington Post cites the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report as showing that two-thirds of this season’s norovirus outbreaks occurred in long-term care institutions. Thirteen percent involved restaurants.
“There are five main types of norovirus,” according to the article. ”Historically, GII.4 strains are more severe than others.”
The norovirus is very contagious and can be picked up just about anywhere. You can get the virus from eating contaminated food or using utensils that have been contaminated with the virus, from touching contaminated surfaces, and from being around someone who is sick with the virus.
As there are no vaccines that protect one from the norovirus, prevention is the best cure! Washing your hands with soap & water, especially before preparing or eating food is essential and generally better than using alcohol based hand sanitizers as these do not kill viruses.