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Norovirus Resurgence in the Northeast: What You Need to Know

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As we approach the end of February 2024, there's been a notable uptick in norovirus cases across the Northeastern United States, marking the highest levels since April of the previous year. Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reveals concerning trends in the region, encompassing New England, New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania.

Norovirus, often dubbed the stomach bug, manifests with symptoms like diarrhea, vomiting, nausea, and abdominal pain. This resurgence serves as a reminder of the importance of personal hygiene and food safety practices.

The latest data, as of February 10, indicates a 13.4% positive test rate for norovirus in the Northeast. While the Massachusetts Department of Public Health does not provide specific case numbers, it's crucial to remain vigilant given the current situation.

The key to minimizing the spread of norovirus lies in preventive measures. Health experts emphasize the significance of staying home when feeling unwell and practicing thorough handwashing with soap and water. Notably, hand sanitizer is not as effective against norovirus as handwashing, which remains the preferred method for reducing transmission.

Norovirus can spread easily through contaminated food, posing additional risks. The virus is resilient to heat, surviving temperatures as high as 145 degrees Fahrenheit. Thus, ensuring proper food hygiene, including washing fruits and vegetables, cooking shellfish thoroughly, and sanitizing cooking utensils and surfaces, is essential for preventing infection.

Furthermore, individuals who have been ill with norovirus should refrain from handling food or providing medical care to others for at least two days after symptoms subside. This precautionary measure applies to various sectors, including food service, healthcare, daycares, and schools, to curb further transmission within communities.

As we navigate this resurgence in norovirus cases, prioritizing hygiene practices and adhering to public health recommendations are paramount. By taking proactive steps to safeguard ourselves and others, we can mitigate the impact of this viral illness and protect community well-being.


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