While the Iowa Department of Public Health says it has received numerous reports of norovirus illnesses in the past few weeks, Nebraska agencies are reporting fewer cases than this time last year.
The Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services has confirmed two cases of the highly contagious illness that causes vomiting and diarrhea.
One case was confirmed in Douglas County, a spokeswoman said Thursday. The other occurred in south-central Nebraska. Both cases, according to the department, were individuals in long-term care facilities.
Last January, the state had 13 confirmed cases of the illness.
Norovirus cases occur all year but are usually higher in the colder months because people are indoors more and in closer contact.
The virus spreads easily when people don’t stay at home when they have diarrhea or vomiting and when they don’t wash their hands after going to the bathroom. The illness also spreads when people prepare food while ill.
Norovirus symptoms include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and low-grade fever. Symptoms typically develop 12 to 48 hours after being exposed to norovirus, according the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Most recover within one to three days.
The Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services offered these tips to prevent the spread of norovirus:
- Wash hands thoroughly with soap and water, especially after using the bathroom and changing diapers, and before eating, preparing or handling food.
- Wash fruits and vegetables before preparing and eating. Cook seafood thoroughly. Food that may be contaminated with norovirus should be thrown out.
- Disinfect affected surfaces and food prep areas with a chlorine bleach solution .
- Wash all soiled laundry with hot water and soap. Avoid vacuuming soiled carpet.
- People with norovirus should not handle food for at least 48 hours after their symptoms have resolved.
This report includes material from the Associated Press.