January 14, 2005

On January 11, 2005, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) was notified by the Ohio State Health Department about gastrointestinal illness in 18 of a group of 20 who had traveled from January 3-10, 2005 to the resort area of Punta Cana, Dominican Republic. The majority of ill travelers complained of diarrhea, nausea, cramps and fatigue. None required hospitalization. The Ohio State Health Department and CDC are investigating to determine the exact cause of illness. Based on the clinical presentation, norovirus disease is suspected.

Noroviruses are a group of viruses that cause the ìstomach flu,î or gastroenteritis and can be found worldwide. Recent outbreaks have been reported on cruise ships in the U.S. The symptoms usually include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and some stomach cramping. Although symptoms of vomiting and diarrhea can be severe, people usually get completely better after 1-3 days. It is important that people who are ill with diarrhea and vomiting drink plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration. Any traveler with persistent diarrhea and vomiting or fever should get immediate medical attention.

Frequent hand washing and attention to hygiene are important in decreasing the risk of contracting norovirus infection.

To learn more about noroviruses, including preventing and treating infection, see http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/dvrd/revb/gastro/norovirus-qa.htm.

For information about handwashing to prevent disease transmission, see http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/op/handwashing.htm.