New Chipotle norovirus outbreak – what you need to know about this viral infection

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Norovirus is a highly contagious form of “stomach flu.” Here are tips from the CDC on how to avoid infection

SUMMARY: Norovirus is a highly contagious viral illness that causes nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and fever. It is spread through contaminated food, drink, and surfaces.

On Tuesday, Chipotle restaurant confirmed that customers that had eaten at a location in Sterling, VA had symptoms of illness consistent with the norovirus. This illness is highly contagious and causes vomiting, nausea, fever, diarrhea, and stomach pain.

Here is what you need to know about norovirus and how to do your best to avoid getting infected:

About norovirus

Norovirus causes inflammation of the stomach and intestines. You catch it by drinking contaminated liquids or eating contaminated food. You can also get it by touching an infected surface and then touching your eyes, nose, or mouth.

Symptoms of infection show up within 12 to 48 hours after exposure to the virus and include:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Fever
  • Stomach pain
  • Headaches
  • Body aches

Symptoms last between one and three days and usually clear up on their own in otherwise healthy people. Dehydration can be an issue if the patient has had a difficult time keeping down fluids or has severe diarrhea. The illness can be more dangerous for infants, older people, and those with compromised immune systems.

Norovirus prevention steps

According to the Centers for Disease Control, there are a few easy steps you can take to prevent infection with norovirus:

    Wash your hands often with soap and water

    Make sure to wash your hands:

    • After using the toilet
    • After changing diapers
    • Before preparing food
    • Before eating

    Rinse fruits and vegetables

    You can become sick if the norovirus is on your food. Rinse all fresh fruits and vegetables before you eat them.

    Cook shellfish thoroughly

    Make sure you cook your shellfish at at 140 degrees or higher. Noroviruses can survive temperatures at lower cooking temperatures.

    Don’t prepare food or care for others if you are sick

    Wait two to three days after you feel better and wash your hands often (even after you recover).

    Clean surfaces and wash/dry laundry

    Disinfect household surfaces with a cleaner that has bleach. If any clothes or linens have been soiled, wash them and then tumble dry.

Norovirus is the most common form of the stomach flu and is very contagious. Outbreaks can occur in crowded environments such as daycare centers, cruise ships, hospitals, and nursing homes.

References to learn more: Norovirus at the Center for Disease Control, Norovirus Infection at the Mayo Clinic and “Norovirus is the Worst” at Time magazine

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