Va. Dept. of Health Using New Data to Prevent Spread of Norovirus

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RICHMOND (WRIC)—The dreaded norovirus has hit Central Virginia; outbreaks are already being reported in our area.

The City of Richmond and Chesterfield and Henrico counties have already experienced bouts of the stomach bug this season. Doctors advise you to take precautions now to prevent getting sick later.

Jared Liggan has seen the norovirus firsthand; his fiancé has had a bad stomach bug for about two weeks.

“She was getting sick many, many times,” Liggan said. “Just felt awful; she couldn't hold anything down.”

This year, folks might be able to stave off that pesky illness with the help of a new, innovative system. The Virginia Department of Health is now able to use data collected from hospitals and urgent care centers statewide to predict norovirus outbreaks.

“Once we cross a certain threshold with that data for norovirus-like illness, that we know in about one or two weeks we're going to start to see an increase in the outbreak activity around the state,” said Deputy State Epidemiologist Dr. Laurie Forlano.

That threshold was hit nearly a week ago, and three outbreaks have already been investigated in the state. Forlano says typically outbreaks will happen at schools and nursing homes—places where large crowds gather.

“With small children or elderly people, they can get quite sick,” Forlano said.

Doctors say now is the time to start using those preventive measures to keep from getting sick. As always, constantly wash your hands, and once you're better, clean your house thoroughly.

Jared Liggan and his family are prepared not to get “bugged” this winter season.

“I even got my son a little hand sanitizer,” Liggan said.

Last season, 184 outbreaks were
investigated in the Commonwealth.

 

Copyright 2013 by Young Broadcasting of Richmond

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