The norovirus outbreak continues to wreak havoc as the highly contagious virus spreads and makes anyone infected suffer its hallmark symptoms. But preventing its infection is actually quite easy.

Dr. Justin Nistico, an infectious disease specialist from Arnot Health, told WETM-TV Friday that there is no need to panic. He said taking precautions and washing hands often are effective in preventing the spread of the virus.

Being aware of where the virus could spread amid the outbreak is also important, so he named the different spaces that make viral transmission possible.

“Schools, daycares, nursing facilities and places where people are in close quarters. Those environments are very conducive for rapid spread,” Nistico said.

In February, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a warning after noticing a sudden surge in cases. Based on data obtained by the public health agency, 225 norovirus outbreaks were reported between Aug. 1, 2022, and Jan. 8, 2023. In the same period in the previous seasonal year, only 172 outbreaks were reported.

The agency sounded the alarm because norovirus is the leading cause of vomiting and diarrhea among people of all ages in the U.S. Around 465,000 emergency room visits, 109,000 hospitalizations and 900 deaths due to the virus are reported each year in the country.

The recent upswing in cases sparked concerns among travelers afraid of catching the virus. But earlier this month, the CDC set the record straight, saying people should not be scared of traveling because the reported number of cases was not unusual and still within the range compared to the figures from the previous years.

“The most recent CDC data collected from the NoroSTAT program and the National Respiratory and Enteric Virus Surveillance System show that reported norovirus outbreaks and reported cases from both state health departments and clinical laboratories are increasing, but remain within the expected range for this time of year,” a CDC spokesperson clarified.

Nistico admitted that the symptoms of a norovirus infection could get intense. However, he also pointed out that they are manageable.

“The symptoms are very intense when you have them. They’re very unpleasant; you could have lots of diarrhea, lots of nausea, lots of vomiting. You may have a limited intake of food and liquids,” he said.

The expert continued, “The key thing is trying your best to stay hydrated. As quickly as it comes is as quickly as it goes.”

Norovirus Outbreaks
One out of every five food service workers reported handling food while suffering from vomiting or diarrhea. Photo courtesy of Shutterstock