Source Newsroom: Kansas State University
MANHATTAN, KAN. -- With the newest strain of norovirus sweeping the nation, Kansas State University food safety expert Doug Powell can talk about ways to prevent getting sick.
The new Sydney strain of norovirus has caused more than 140 outbreaks in the U.S. since September. Norovirus often is mistaken for the stomach flu and the new strain causes vomiting and diarrhea for several days. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently reported that the Sydney strain is behind 60 percent of norovirus outbreaks.
"Norovirus is much more contagious than people think," said Powell, professor of food safety. "In the past, we've seen multiple outbreaks in group settings like cruise ships, care facilities, university residences, schools, sporting teams and restaurants. It's a massive amount of barf."
Even those who clean up vomit have to be especially careful because viral particles are dispersed in the air, Powell said.
"Many people say they routinely wash their hands, but even in an outbreak situation, observational research shows they really don't," Powell said. "And it's not enough to say, 'Wash your hands.' There needs to be access to proper hand-washing tools -- vigorous running water, soap and paper towels -- as well as compelling behavioral messages, like 'Don't make others barf,' to get people to wash their hands."
Powell includes more information about the current norovirus outbreak on his blog: http://barfblog.com/categories/norovirus/.