New norovirus strain circulating - WAOW - Newsline 9, Wausau News, Weather, Sports

New norovirus strain circulating

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WISCONSIN RAPIDS (WAOW) -

Over the past few weeks, health officials have warned about the dangers of the flu, but the say it's also the season for norovirus.

"Norovirus occurs every year. There's many different strains of the norovirus, and every year we do have reports of outbreaks," said Diane Rodd, Wood County Public Health Nurse.

According to the CDC, a new strain of norovirus from Australia is particularly nasty.

"It's hitting people faster. They're getting sicker where they don't need as much exposure to the virus," said Stacey Firkus, Riverview Hospital Infection Control Coordinator.

Wood County has not seen cases of this new strain, but there have been instances of norovirus. Health officials said people should take precautions against an outbreak.

"There's always a possibility that if persons are not washing their hands adequately with soap and water that others could get sick, and that's a real possibility all the time," said Rodd.

Health leaders said norovirus symptoms are sometimes confused with influenza.

"When people say, ‘I've got the flu,' a lot of times they talk about the GI illnesses. They talk about abdominal pain. They talk about vomiting. They talk about diarrhea, and that's not influenza," said Firkus.

Unlike the flu, there's no vaccination to lower your chances of getting norovirus. Health officials recommend people wash their hands to stay healthy. They said hand sanitizer and normal cleaning supplies won't kill norovirus.

"You need to clean your house with bleach if it's in your household, and you also need to wash your hands with soap and water. You can't use that alcohol-based hand rub," said Firkus.

It's unknown how many people in Wood County have become sick with norovirus. County health officials said it's not a reportable disease.

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