Florida Plagued By Norovirus

Florida is seeing an increase in <"http://www.yourlawyer.com/topics/overview/norovirus">norovirus, reports NewsPress.com. According to public health officials in that state, the increase being seen is currently at about 50 percent with over one dozen outbreaks recently occurring Florida counties.

One county saw five outbreaks this year, versus three at this point in 2009, said NewsPress.com. Another 100 cases at a public school and four nursing homes were also reported, said the health department, wrote NewsPress.com. And, another Florida county saw 90 cases in 2010 in nine nursing homes, according to the health department there, said NewsPress.com. The reason for the jump in outbreaks remains unknown.

According to NewsPress.com, the health department has seen 92 outbreaks in the state, versus 47 one year ago at the same time, noting that an outbreak is defined as two or more cases in the same location and during the same time frame.

Norovirus, a group of viruses that cause gastroenteritis, are not helped with antibiotics. People become infected by eating food or drinking liquids contaminated with norovirus; touching surfaces or objects contaminated with norovirus, and then placing their hand in their mouth; and having direct contact with another person who is infected and showing symptoms. People may feel very sick and vomit many times a day. Sometimes people are unable to drink enough liquids to replenish the liquids lost due to vomiting and diarrhea and can become dehydrated and require special medical attention.

Norovirus, which can survive for weeks on surfaces at room temperature, can be difficult to eliminate, and can only be killed with chorine bleach. Alcohol-based hand sanitizers and other preparations are not too helpful. Norovirus outbreaks occur frequently in closed populations, such as cruise ships and nursing homes.

When nursing homes experience outbreaks, said NewsPress.com, health departments typically call for a break on new admittances, which are generally lifted two days after the last case is confirmed. One nursing home in Florida was just cleared last week and another is expected this week, said NewsPress.com, which pointed out that state and county health departments were not releasing the names of the nursing homes and schools involved in outbreaks.

Meanwhile, we have been following norovirus outbreaks plaguing cruise ships, the most recent, an outbreak of over 400 passengers on a Celebrity Cruise lines last month. This is just one of eight such outbreaks this year alone, said MSNBC, previously, with four having taken place in one week, said the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The CDC, which runs a cruise ship sanitation program, was recently criticized for doing a poor job of detecting dirty cruise ship bathrooms.

In 2009, there were a total of 15 cruise ship outbreaks of norovirus and experts are unclear why 2010 is seeing such an early rise, said MSNBC. According to a prior New York Times article, there have been more than 60 outbreaks of norovirus on cruise ships since 2005. Also, inn November, we wrote that a norovirus was ruled as the culprit in another outbreak on a cruise ship.

According to the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (a docking port for one of the cruise lines involved), 62 norovirus or suspected norovirus outbreaks have taken place in that state in 2010 alone, said the Post and Courier.

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