The American CDC warned consumers of the latest foods and places to avoid or approach cautiously in order to avoid catching the outbreak of Norovirus that seems to be going around. Although it is particularly prevalent in the winter months, it’s worth Australians also being aware now during Sumer because it can still be spread and those travelling to the US should also be aware of the risks because of the outbreak spreading there.
According to the CDC there is a new strain of the virus going around that is highly contagious and making people very sick. Symptoms may vary from stomach pains, nausea, diarrhoea and vomiting. Some people may incorrectly diagnose it as the flu but it is not and so a flu shot will not cure the sickness. Although the symptoms may be flu-like, the flu is a respiratory sickness and so any vaccines meant for the flu will not work if you try to use it for Norovirus.
What exactly is Norovirus?
Norovirus is what we commonly refer to as the stomach flu or food poisoning. Places commonly associated with this virus are hospitals, nursing homes, restaurants, schools and parties. These are the other places where the norovirus was contracted according to a post by Foodsafetynews.com:
Topping the list of dangerous places for noro, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta, are all sorts of long-term care facilities that include nursing homes, assisted living facilities, and the like. In a CDC study, 59 percent of the cases of norovirus in 2010-11 were associated with long term-care versus 4 percent for cruise ships.
About half of all foodborne illness is caused by norovirus “In fact, norovirus is the leading cause of illness from contaminated food in the United States,” according to CDC. It says foods commonly involved in outbreaks of norovirus illness are:
Leafy greens (such as lettuce),
Fresh fruits, and
Shellfish (such as oysters).
The Centre for Disease Control in America also warned of the danger of serving raw or cooked food after handling contaminated foods. Food handlers play the most important role in ensuring Norovirus is not spread and are also very contagious when they are sick or during the first 3 days of recovering.
What Food Handlers Should Do
- Food handlers should wash their hands frequently and thoroughly with soap and water.
- Wash fruit and vegetables thoroughly before eating
- Ensure shellfish are thoroughly cooked before consuming
- Ensure kitchen surfaces, utensils, counter tops and prep areas, table linens, napkins and crockery and cutlery are clean and disinfected.
It is no coincidence that restaurants are twice as likely to be associated with a Norovirus outbreak as a cruise ship although cruise ships have been given a bad rap and infact one of the names used to describe Norovirus is “Cruise ship virus”. Recently Norovirus has spread across America and Canada and restaurant patrons need to be ware because eateries are the main cause of Norovirus spreading.