MEMPHIS, TN (abc24.com) - There was another suspected outbreak of the norovirus in Shelby County; it was potentially the fifth outbreak since January.
The Shelby County Health Department won’t say how many people have come down with the virus that can cause vomiting and diarrhea, and in some cases dehydration and death.
Remember this: hand sanitizers are no good against the norovirus. The only thing that works is good, old fashioned soap and water. But, no matter how much washing was going on, the incidence of norovirus in Shelby County seemed to be slowly rising.
“Norovirus are a group of related single strand RNA that cause acute enteritis in humans,” stated an educational video from the Centers for Disease Control.
Or, put another way, “It’s generally a vomiting and diarrhea disease,” Dr. Helen Morrow told abc24.com.
Dr. Morrow is a health officer with the Shelby County Health Department.
“We are working on a possible fifth outbreak,” she said, “it is not confirmed.”
On February 6, the Health Department responded to three reported outbreaks in long-term care facilities.
“It’s not anything I would consider epidemic,” said Morrow, “but it is something the public needs to be aware of.”
According to the CDC, “Noroviruses are transmitted primarily through the fecal-oral route.” That means things like direct contact, fingers in the mouth or vomiting.
Early warning has helped in Shelby County.
Morrow said, “We have had a wonderful response from the community to let us know when they are seeing episodes of vomiting and diarrhea-related illnesses.”
The young and old are most susceptible to norovirus, but there is one thing everybody can do to prevent it. “Wash your hands,” Morrow said, “soap and water are the best preventive measures.”
Union University in Jackson, Tennessee was scheduled to resume classes on Wednesday, February 13, after closing for two days when 300 students complained of a severe stomach illness.
Although it was not officially labeled as norovirus, perhaps more hand washing will now be taking place.