Tuesday, February 14, 2012
Huron County Health Unit
Stay Home if Sick: Health Unit
The Huron County Health Unit is seeing an increase in enteric outbreaks, or stomach illness, across the county. They are advising residents to stop the spread of infection by staying home if you are sick.
Public Health Inspector Elizabeth Choi says the illness is likely caused by Norovirus infections. Other regions of Ontario have also reported an increase in similar outbreaks in the community including healthcare facilities, retirement homes and daycares.
Noroviruses cause sudden onset of nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. Symptoms can also include a low-grade fever, chills, headache, tiredness and muscle aches. Illness lasts 24 to 48 hours. You can be reinfected even after you have recovered. There is no specific treatment for Norovirus, but it is important to get plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration.
This illness is spread by direct person-to-person by unwashed hands contaminated with stool of an infected person. Because the virus can survive on surfaces, it can also spread indirectly by touching contaminated surfaces such as door handles, hand rails, toilets and countertops. It can also be spread through air.
Choi is reminding those who are sick with symptoms to stay at home. She says healthcare workers, foodhandlers, caregivers including daycare staff should not return to work until 48 hours after symptoms have resolved.
Choi also strongly encourages parents to keep their sick children at home from daycare until they have been symptom free for at least 48 hours. This helps prevent the spread of infection to others.
“I know people have heard this over and over, but it’s true: thorough handwashing with warm running water and soap for at least 20 seconds does help prevent people from getting sick,” says Choi. Using an alcohol based hand sanitizer with between 70-90% alcohol when hands are not soiled can also work. Hands should be cleaned after using the washroom, after changing diapers, after shaking hands and before preparing and eating food.
Communications Co-ordinator, Huron County Health Unit
519-482-3416 or toll-free 1-877-837-6143