New Strain of Norovirus May Increase Outbreaks, CDC Warns

Federal health officials say a new norovirus strain has been causing the majority of outbreaks across the United States since September.

Although it’s too early to know for certain, researchers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, warn that new strains often lead to more outbreaks.

Norovirus, which is highly contagious, is the No. 1 cause of acute gastroenteritis – diarrhea and vomiting, according to the CDC. More than 21 million people in the U.S. become infected each year. Of those, about 800 die.

CDC authorities urge the public to take measures to prevent norovirus infection. It spreads mostly by direct contact with someone who is sick. But it can also spread through contaminated food, water and surfaces, a CDC news release states.

In fact, people who are infected can easily spread norovirus by preparing food or taking care of other people while they are sick.

The best way to prevent norovirus infection is to wash your hands with soap and water, disinfect surfaces, rinse fruit and vegetables, cook shellfish thoroughly and avoid contact with others while you are ill, according to the CDC.

“Right now, it’s too soon to tell whether the new strain of norovirus will lead to more outbreaks than in previous years,” said Dr. Aaron Hall, a CDC epidemiologist. “However, CDC continues to work with state partners to watch this closely and and see if the strain is associated with more severe illness.”

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