The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has announced approval of what it calls the first test for preliminary identification of norovirus, intended for use in outbreaks in which there is a likely transmission pathway.

The test, called the Ridascreen Norovirus 3rd Generation EIA assay, “is for use when a number of people have simultaneously contracted gastroenteritis and there is a clear avenue for virus transmission, such as a shared location or food,” the FDA said in a news release yesterday. The test is made by R-Biopharm AG of Darmstadt, Germany.

“This test provides an avenue for early identification of norovirus. Early intervention can halt the spread of an outbreak,” said Jeffrey Shuren, MD, JD, director of the FDA’s Center for Devices and Radiological Health. The agency did not say how long the test takes to give a result.

The test is not sensitive enough for diagnosing norovirus infection in individual patients, the FDA said.

  • Practice proper hand hygiene:Wash hands carefully with soap and water, especially after using the toilet and changing diapers and always before eating or preparing food.
  • Take care in the kitchen: Wash fruits and vegetables, and cook oysters and other shellfish thoroughly before eating.
  • DO NOT prepare food while infected: People who are infected with Norovirus should not prepare food for others as long as they have symptoms and until 3 days after recovering from illness.
  • Clean and disinfect contaminated surfaces: After an episode of illness, such as vomiting or diarrhea, immediately clean and disinfect contaminated surfaces with a bleach-based household cleaner or a solution of 5–25 tablespoons of household bleach per gallon of water.
  • Wash laundry thoroughly: Immediately remove and wash clothing or linens that may be contaminated with vomit or fecal matter. Use detergent and wash at the maximum available cycle length and then machine dry.

South Dakota is seeing a spike in norovirus, an illness that can begin suddenly with cramping, vomiting or diarrhea.

State health officials are reminding residents to practice good personal hygiene to prevent the illness, sometimes called the stomach flu.

It is highly contagious and spreads quickly in day cares, nursing homes and other close environments.

People are infected by eating food and drinking liquids that are contaminated with norovirus. Caring for or sharing food, drinks or eating utensils with an infected person also cause infections.

Most people recover within one to two days with no long-term health effects. However, norovirus infection can be more severe for young children, the elderly, and people with other health conditions.

The Cincinnati Health Department confirmed students at Mt. Airy Elementary School began complaining of vomiting, diarrhea and cramps — symptoms associated with the norovirus — in mid-January. Since then, between 150 and 200 cases have been reported.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that norovirus spreads from person to person, through contaminated food or water, and by touching contaminated surfaces.

The school sent two letters home to parents warning of the virus — one last week and another Wednesday.

The norovirus has become infamous in the past few years due to well-publicized outbreaks on cruise ships.

Signs and symptoms of norovirus infection include:

Nausea

Abdominal pain

Abdominal cramps

Watery or loose diarrhea

Weight loss

Malaise

Low-grade fever

The CDC says that while the virus can be debilitating, it rarely causes serious problems. Doctors warn to guard against dehydration, especially among the very young and very old.

Noroviruses are transmitted primarily through the fecal-oral route, and fewer than 100 norovirus particles are said to be needed to cause infection (MMWR, 2001, June 1).

Transmission occurs either person-to-person or through contamination of food or water. Foodborne norovirus transmission can occur when food is contaminated by an infected food handler (Caceres, et al., 1998; MMWR, 2001, June 1).

Noroviruses are recognized as causing over half of all foodborne illness outbreaks. A 2011 CDC report estimates that over 5,400,000 people become ill from norovirus infections each year. Almost 15,000 of these people are hospitalized and 149 die. CDC statistics show that food is the most common vehicle of transmission for noroviruses; of 232 outbreaks of norovirus between July 1997 and June 2000, 57% were foodborne, 16% were spread from person-to-person, and 3% were waterborne (CDC, 2006, August 3).

The virus is shed in large numbers in the vomit and stool of infected individuals, most commonly while they are ill. Some individuals may, however, continue to shed norovirus long after they have recovered from the illness (Patterson, 1993). Aerosolized vomit has also been implicated as a mode of norovirus transmission (Marks, et al., 2000).

As noted by the CDC in its Final Trip Report, “noroviruses can cause extended outbreaks because of their high infectivity, persistence in the environment, resistance to common disinfectants, and difficulty in controlling their transmission through routine sanitary measures” (MMWR, 2001, June 1).

For more information, visit About Norovirus.

A stomach bug virus outbreak at Foran High School in Milford is causing big concern because about 150 students have called in sick in the last two days.

The bug is A highly contagious virus with symptoms similar to the Norovirus. It is spreading quickly and right now Foran High school is feeling it.

“A lot of people were out today, I think there only like 10, 11 or 12 kids in my Spanish class, and yesterday a bunch of people went home,” says sophomore, Nick Falcha.

So far Foran is the only school in the district hard hit with the stomach flu.

“It could happen at other schools as well,” says Dennis McBride of the Milford Health Department.

To slow it down, a letter from the Health Department and Acting Superintendent was sent to all parents, stressing people to wash their hands frequently.

“We are adhearing to strict cleanup practices as soon as the school is over. The health department is inspecting the food preparation areas for all the schools,” says Mcbride.

The Rhode Island Department of Health has issued an advisory about norovirus cases.  So far, in 2010, there have been 17 reported outbreaks of the norovirus in Rhode Island.  However, as is customary in the winter months, there has been an uptick in cases since November.  Norovirus is one of the leading causes of gastroenteritis oubreaks.

It is spread when people do not properly wash their hands.  Symptoms can last for up to two days, and include:

* Fever

* Chills

* Aches

* Nausea

* Diarrhea

* Cramps

People who come down with norovirus are advised to stay home from work until the symptoms stop.

Norovirus cases reportedly on the rise‎

Along with the cold and flu, another virus is making the rounds in Genesee County and other parts of the state.

Health officials report cases of the norovirus are on the rise.

Around this time every year the norovirus begins to spread.

A few residents are already showing symptoms at Genesee Gardens, a retirement living facility in Flint Township. That’s why management put a red stop sign flyer on the front doors to alerting visitors. They’re trying to prevent the spread of the virus that can cause vomiting, diarrhea, nausea and stomach cramping.

Part of the plan involves keeping residents from interacting with each other too much. The dinning room is closed and residents are asked to stay in their rooms.

Norovirus cases decline‎

McHenry County Health Department officials have closed two investigations into norovirus outbreaks at county nursing homes as new cases continue to decline.

One investigation remains open, and no new outbreaks have been reported at area schools or other entities, according to health department officials.

“The outbreak has significantly slowed down,” said Debra Quakenbush, health department community information coordinator. “One facility has had a small number of new cases, but we see this coming to an end shortly.”

The norovirus outbreak at three McHenry County nursing homes in late November sickened at least 138 people and sent eight to the hospital, causing some of the long-term care facilities to refuse new admissions. Staff also were affected.

Norovirus caused dozens to be sick after Lee County schools fundraiser

The Lee County Health Department has concluded that a Norovirus caused dozens of people to fall ill earlier this month at a Lee County Public Schools fundraiser.

But it will likely be up to a week before the department concludes how it was spread, aid Robert South, department epidemiologist.

About 200 people attended the 15th Annual Take Stock in Children Holiday Auction on Nov. 4 at Paseo Village Center.

Norovirus sickens 131 in McHenry County nursing homes

A norovirus outbreak at three McHenry County nursing homes has sickened 131 people, sent eight to the hospital and caused some of the long-term care facilities to refuse new admissions.

Norovirus causes symptoms like vomiting, diarrhea and fever and is sometimes referred to as “stomach flu, ” although it is not related to influenza.

Health officials were made aware of the spike in cases early this week. Those affected include not only residents at the nursing homes, but staff as well.

An increase in reports of vomiting and diarrhea in Dane County, mostly among children, is leading health officials to issue familiar advice:

Wash your hands well after using the bathroom, especially before, during and after Thanksgiving cooking and gatherings.

“We don’t want people to bake pumpkin pie and make their family sick,” said Amanda Kita-Yarbro, an infectious diseases specialist with the Madison-Dane County Health Department.