Norovirus cases on the rise in Iowa

Iowa Department of Public Health is seeing more cases of norovirus, which can lead to gastroentritis (what we might call stomach flu)

Posted: Dec 28, 2019 12:01 AM

MASON CITY, Iowa - The holidays are not over yet, making it poor timing for anyone to get sick.

Unfortunately, norovirus - which can cause an upset stomach - is starting to making an ugly appearance, and the Iowa Department of Public Health is seeing more and more cases of it. 

Dr. Hameed Khan of Quick Care Urgent Care has seen a mix of norovirus and influenza B cases.

"With the fluctuation of weather, it's starting to get warmer. We're starting to see more noroviruses now. A lot of people are coming in with GI complaints, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain."

Even his staff has not been immune to it.

"We've had some of our employees who were sick or out with the flu or the norovirus. We're seeing our fair share too as well."

Jodi Willemsen with CG Public Health says the timing with holidays can provide a sickly combination, especially in places with lots of people.

"You can go to the grocery stores with the grocery carts, and door handles. Debit card machines, a lot of us use those, with the keypads that might be contaminated with viruses or bacteria."

"It's a bacteria that's very hearty and lives outside of the body for up to two weeks. It can stay on surfaces for that amount of time."

So what can you do to avoid falling ill? One tip: wash your hands thoroughly.

"Keep your distance from people. If you're ill, stay home. If you've been sick, don't prepare food for others, don't care for others. Keep your distance if you can, to prevent that illness from being shared."

If you do happen to catch it, Willemsen stresses staying hydrated, preferably drinking water or anything with electrolytes.

"With vomiting and diarrhea happening, it's easy to get dehydrated. If you can, keep drinking fluids, keep yourself hydrated as much as possible."

In addition, using disenfectant wipes is also encouraged.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that there is no specific medicine to treat norovirus. Antibiotics will not help because they fight bacteria, not viruses.

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