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1 dead as stomach flu cases rise in SE Idaho, USA

Norovirus Stomach Bug Alert

Southeast Idaho health officials are seeing an increase in the number of patients afflicted with stomach flu this year, including one local resident who died from the virus.
Southeastern Idaho Public Health said nine confirmed cases of norovirus, also known as stomach flu, have been identified in Southeast Idaho since Jan. 1. This number surpasses the total annual number of confirmed cases in both 2013 and 2014. 
Though the virus rarely proves fatal, Ian Troester-Solbrig, a registered nurse and epidemiologist for Southeastern Idaho Public Health, said a patient living in Southeast Idaho recently died from complications resulting from the illness. 
The patient died from dehydration, a common side effect of norovirus illnesses. 
“The illness can be dangerous for people who suffer from dehydration,” he said. “It also hits the very old and the very young, and people with weak immune systems, particularly hard.”
Troester-Solbrig said even though the number of confirmed cases seem small, the true number of patients afflicted with noroviruses are difficult to determine. 
“It’s hard for a health department to keep track of noroviruses because it spreads really fast and people usually don’t seek medical treatment,” he said. “They usually wait it out at home until they become better.”
However, Troester-Solbrig said he has provided medical assistance to around 50 people suffering from symptoms reflective of the virus since January. 
None of Southeast Idaho’s neighboring regions have seen a spike in norovirus cases this year. Troester-Solbrig said the majority of the cases were concentrated in the area between Blackfoot and Soda Springs. This area includes Pocatello and Fort Hall.
The most common norovirus symptoms are vomiting, diarrhea and intense stomach pains. The virus is very contagious and the onset of symptoms after the patient is initially exposed is quick, usually within 12 to 48 hours. 
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, norovirus is the most common cause of acute gastroenteritis in the United States, as well as the most common cause of foodborne-disease outbreaks. Every year, it causes 19 to 21 million illnesses and contributes to 570 to 800 deaths across the country. 
To prevent the spread of norovirus, health officials strongly encourage washing your hands before handling food and after using the bathroom. 
Because the virus is so contagious, Troester-Solbrig also said it is important to stay home from work or school if you are sick. He also said you should wait one to three days after the symptoms pass before going back to work or school to prevent infecting others.
“You can easily get it from touching a shopping cart or eating contaminated food,” he said. 
If patients feel light-headed, they should seek medical treatment immediately.
Troester-Solbrig also said using bleach is the best way to disinfect contaminated surfaces. He recommends using a solution consisting of one part bleach and nine parts water.
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Virus sickens hundreds on Baltimore cruise ship

Virus Alert

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says passengers on a cruise ship that sailed out of Baltimore became sick on board during two consecutive voyages.

According to the CDC website, about 100 passengers and crew members on the Grandeur of the Seas became ill with vomiting and diarrhea. It left April 5 for a seven-day cruise.


A spokeswoman for ship owner Royal Caribbean Cruises in an email confirmed the illnesses and said a norovirus was believed to be the cause.


The CDC also reported that about 100 passengers and crew members became ill on the Grandeur during its sailing from March 28 to April 5.


The agency says three of its staff will board the ship when it returns to Baltimore Saturday to investigate the most recent outbreak.


Dozens Of Cruise Passengers Fall Ill To Stomach Virus
Norovirus Alert

A four-night Royal Caribbean cruise ended on a queasy note Friday, when dozens of passengers contracted a stomach illness that caused gastrointestinal issues including vomiting and diarrhea.

Of the 2,500 passengers on the ship, 66 were affected by what the company said is likely norovirus, a contagious bug spread through food, water or contaminated surfaces, CNN reports. Two crew members on the Royal Caribbean International ship, which docked in Miami Friday, were affected as well.

The incident is the latest in a series that has hurt the cruise industry, including a fire on the Royal Caribbean’s Grandeur of the Seas cruise ship last May and an engine room fire on the Carnival Triumph in February.

Virus Outbreak At Weston General Hospital, UK
Weston General Hospital
A ONE-HOUR window to visit patients is being introduced at Weston General Hospital after an outbreak of norovirus.

The precautionary measure is designed to stop the spread of the winter vomiting bug.

Only two visitors can see a patient at any one time, with visiting hours only between 6.30-7.30pm daily. The restrictions will be in place until further notice.

Christine Perry, director of nursing at Weston Area Health NHS Trust, said: “We understand that people want to visit family and friends in hospital, particularly over the festive season, and we are asking visitors to be understanding while we have restrictions in place.

“Restricting visitors coming into hospital wards helps in a number of ways. It helps to reduce infections as we can make sure our wards are spotlessly clean as the fewer people there are on a ward, the more thorough our cleaning staff can be.

“The reduced number of people coming onto the wards means there is less risk of visitors accidently bringing infections, such as diarrhoea and/or vomiting, into the hospital.

“Shorter visiting times will also ensure that patients get more time to rest, which is vitally important for recovery after surgery or illness, and means they will be able to return to their own homes more quickly.”

Visitors of patients suffering from a life-threatening condition are exempt from such restrictions.

New Cases Of Norovirus Keeps Aged-Care Home In Lockdown, Australia
The sign greeting visitors to Sundale Nursing facility in Nambour.
MORE than 100 residents of one of the Sunshine Coast’s largest aged-care facilities are still in lockdown after new cases of the ghastly norovirus emerged.

The serious gastro bug swept through Sundale Garden Village at Nambour over Christmas, affecting three aged-care facilities.

Two have been re-opened but hopes of re-opening the third and largest – the James Grimes facility – this weekend were dashed when another resident came down with symptoms including diarrhoea, vomiting and intense nausea on Saturday.

Sundale CEO Glenn Bunney said about 30 residents had contracted the virus in the past few weeks.

Queensland Health procedures required immediate lockdown to try to stop the virus spreading throughout the village and affecting more than 200 residents.

“Due to another elder displaying symptoms we have had no option than to maintain the infection control priorities in the James Grimes Care Centre and maintain lockdown at this stage until Tuesday – 72 hours after the last episode,” Mr Bunney said.

“The episode was in one of the wings that was due to re-open this weekend, so it was thought more appropriate to maintain the status quo until we get approval from Population Health (in Qld Health).”

Friends and families of the 117 James Grimes Nursing home residents were advised the lockdown meant they could not spend Christmas with their loved ones.

Sundale plans to reschedule the December 25 festivities to later in January.

“We hope this will soon be behind us and we can begin planning our Christmas in January celebration,” Mr Bunney said.