Open Wide - The Official Blog of The Chicago Dental Society

Permanent link  Lake County sees outbreak of norovirus


The Lake County Health Department is warning residents about an outbreak of norovirus and its associated viral gastroenteritis. Nine outbreaks were reported in January.
“Noroviruses can make a person very ill,” said Irene Pierce, the Health Department's Executive Director, in a prepared release. “They are very contagious and can spread quickly in families and places where people are in close contact with each other, such as schools, childcare centers, long-term care facilities, and cruise ships.”
The virus causes gastroenteritis and is often called "stomach flu," or "food poisoning." Symptoms include:
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Abdominal cramps
  • Headache
  • Fever/chills
  • Muscle aches
Symptoms usually last only a few days, but are often severe. The virus remains in the body for 2-3 weeks.
People can become infected by:
  • Consuming contaminated food or beverages
  • Touching contaminated surfaces or objects and then putting their hands in their mouth
  • Direct contact with a person who is infected and showing symptoms, such as caring for someone with the illness, or sharing foods or eating utensils with someone who is ill.
To protect yourself against this virus, the Health Department encourages following these preventive steps:
  • Wash your hands for 20 seconds, especially after using the bathroom, changing diapers, before eating and before preparing food.
  • Carefully wash fruits and vegetables, and steam oysters before eating them.
  • Thoroughly clean and disinfect contaminated surfaces immediately after an episode of illness by using a bleach-based household cleaner. 
  • Immediately remove and wash clothing or linens that may be contaminated with the virus after an episode of illness (use soap and hot water).
If you would like additional information on norovirus, call the Health Department's Communicable Disease Program at 847.377.8130 or visit them online.