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Highly contagious norovirus expected to hit Upstate South Carolina

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The norovirus is hitting North Carolina hard, and is likely to move south into South Carolina in the coming weeks, WSPA reported December 26.

The North Carolina Department of Health has already confirmed several cases in Henderson, Burke, Alamance and Beaufort counties. There are likely more cases unconfirmed, due to an infected person being too ill to be driven to a doctor for treatment.

In an interview with Dr. Kurt Harding of Doctor's Express in Greenville, Harding explained how the virus is spread so quickly

"The reason it's so contagious and catching is that people will eat things that are contaminated with it."

According to the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (SCDHEC) Norovirus is a very powerful illness belonging to the calicivirus family. The virus affects the stomach and intestines and can stop an infected person in their tracks. It causes vomiting, diarrhea, nausea, stomach pains.

Some also suffer chills, body aches and fever. The vomiting and diarrhea can be explosive, unpredictable and very dangerous to the very young or very old, as well as to those with weakened immune systems. Dehydration can set in quickly, turning the virus into a life-threatening emergency.

People are considered contagious with the virus from the time they begin feeling sick until at least three days after symptoms have subsided. In some cases, a person is contagious for up to two weeks. Once you've had the virus, you have temporary immunity that will last a couple of months. Then you're at risk of being infected again.

Norovirus can't be prevented by antivirals or antibiotics. There's no vaccine for the illness. The best way to avoid being exposed is to be extremely diligent while out in public, as well as around sick people in your household. It takes very little of the virus to infect a person.

Here are some tips for staying well

*Wash hands well after using the bathroom and before handling food. Be sure to wash between the fingers, where bacteria is often missed in routine handwashing
*Cook meals at home instead of eating out. It's a big risk to trust that the person who prepared your burger and fries washed their hands after using the restroom
*Use a one part chlorine bleach to 10 parts water to clean food surfaces and bathrooms
*Carry a pen with you when you shop.Touching debit/credit card keypads is one way the virus is spread
*Use disinfectant wipes on supermarket shopping carts before use
*Stay away from people you know are sick. Be considerate and don't go around others in public if you are ill with the virus
*Consider steam cleaning upholstery if a person in your home has been ill
*For those of you with babies, remember that baby diapers may spread the disease during changing if your baby is infected. Keep in mind that both stool and vomit contaminated with norovirus are highly infectious

Are you doing anything special to minimize exposure to norovirus? Please share any helpful hints to stay well in the comment section.



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