New Norovirus: Highly Contagious Virus

A new highly contagious strain of Norovirus is prevelant throughout the U.S. This new strain is so contagious that it accounted for 58% of all U.S. reported cases of gastroenteritis last month.  It was first discovered in Sydney, Australia in March 2012. 

This illness has symptoms of vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, and in many cases, fever as well.  Norovirus has peaked in the U.S. in January.  Unfortunately, Norovirus has peaked at the same time as Influenza has peaked.  This has led many people to incorrectly call this "the stomach flu."  The Norovirus is a virus that causes gastrointestinal illness. The Flu is a respiratory illness caused by the Influenza virus which is unrelated to Norovirus.

Norovirus is highly contagious.  It remains in stools for approximately 2 weeks after the symptoms have resolved.

What can you do to prevent Norovirus infection?
1. Handwashing
2. Rise fruits & vegetables
3. Cook food thoroughly
4. Clean & disinfect surfaces

Handwashing with soap and water is the most important preventative measure one can take to prevent from getting gastroenteritis. Hand sanitizer simply will not be effective.  For little children, specifically toddlers, it is especially difficult for them to keep their fingers and objects out of their mouths.  So, make sure to wash their hands frequently.

Cooking food thoroughly is important because Norovirus can survive in temperatures up to 140°F.  Avoid eating raw foods during this time.

In addition, it is important to disinfect any contaminated surfaces.  The Center for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) recommends bleach water of a combinations of 5-25 tablespoons of bleach per gallon of water.

What can you do once you have gastroenteritis?
Hydration is the key.  Depending on the age, Pedialyte or sports drinks are recommended to replace the fluids lost.  It's important to contact your doctor if you or your loved one is unable to tolerate fluids.  Dehydration is serious and can lead to death.

For more information about Norovirus, please go to www.cdc.gov/norovirus.


Flu Illness High in U.S.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have a U.S. weekly surveillance report.  As of last week, the rate of death due to flu with pneumonia reached a level above what is considered an epidemic threshold.
In addition, 9 out of 10 U.S. regions showed elevated levels of influenza-like ilness.  47 states have a reported widespread level of the flu.

What can you do to prevent yourself or your family from getting the flu?

Get vaccinated.  The vaccine has been available since late last August, so it may not be as readily available. However, nowadays you have more locations where you can get the vaccine.  You can go to your doctor, your child's pediatrician, a local pharmacy, or the health department.

Good old fashioned hand washing is helpful, as flu droplets may linger on countertops and other objects.

Lastly, it may sound simple, but stay away from people who are coughing or appear to have cold symptoms. What looks like a cold one day, may reveal itself to be the flu on the next day.  Flu is contagious fom 1 day before aymptoms develop & 5-7 days after flu symptoms start.

The CDC's U.S. weekly influenza activity map & weekly surveillance report are available. For more information on the flu, go to http://www.cdc.gov/flu.


New Year's Resolution 2013


This year, I'm keeping my New Year's resolutions simple.  The ever popular "weight loss" resolution is not on my list.  This year I want to actually be able to attain some of my goals.  So, here it goes.  I will drink more water every day.  I will exercise more.  I will spend more time in faith .  Notice, I didn't include any deadlines or specific numbers.  Yes, 8 glasses of water per day & 30 minutes of exercise 3 times a week are recommended.  And every religion has a set of rules and/or commandments.  However, I have tried to follow recommendations & rules in the past.  When I have failed, I've felt disheartened and very much a failure.

So, this year, I'm letting go more.  I'm just trying to do "more."  Perhaps without strict rules, there will be more freedom and success.  Maybe that's the trick. Maybe by letting go, you receive more.
So what are your New Year's resolutions?  Do your kids have any?  Keeping it simple is the key with kids.  Consider, "I will eat more vegetables."  "I will make my bed more often."  "I will say, I love you, more."  Maybe you and your children can share some resolutions?  Generally, there is more success in numbers.

If you'd like to find some easy New Year's resolutions for your kids, the American Academy of Pediatrics has a great article, https://www.healthychildren.org/English/news/Pages/Healthy-New-Years-Resolutions-for-Kids.aspx. 

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