BELLINGHAM - The Whatcom County Health Department is asking residents to take extra precautions at summer cookouts and other gatherings after several recent "clusters" of illness have surfaced which appear to be caused by norovirus, which causes nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.
This type of virus can easily be transmitted in food and water contaminated by individuals who are ill. County health officials recommend these precautions:
Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water. Hand sanitizers are often not effective against these viruses.
Do not prepare food for others until you have not had any symptoms of illness for at least 48 hours.
Thoroughly clean and disinfect the areas where people have vomited or the bathrooms that have been used by people who are ill.
Stay home from work, childcare or other settings where there are lots of people. Vomit and diarrhea are very infectious and can come on unexpectedly, exposing others.
Do not send ill individuals to camps, parties, swimming areas or other events.
Do not visit the elderly, infants or people who have weak immune systems. Dehydration can be very serious for them.
Encourage lots of fluids and rest. Most people recover in one or two days. If dehydration occurs or you are concerned about not being able to keep fluids down, contact your health care provider's office for advice.
For more information, go to cdc.gov/norovirus.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, norovirus illness is sometimes referred to as food poisoning or stomach flu. However, food poisoning also can be caused by other germs and chemicals, and norovirus illness is not related to influenza, which is a respiratory illness with similar symptoms.