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North Central Health District and the Georgia Department of Public Health are working with Georgia College Student Health Services to investigate an outbreak of gastrointestinal illnesses among students during February 2019.
On Feb. 12, North Central Health District received test results form the Georgia Public Health Lab which were positive for norovirus. At this time, North Central Health District Epidemiologist have stopped collecting responses to the outbreak investigation survey. There are currently 127 reported cases associated with this outbreak.

Has Public Health Been Notified?

North Central Health District was notified of a cluster of gastrointestinal illness Feb. 6. 13 reports of gastrointestinal illness triggered a cluster investigation.

What Has Georgia College Done?

Georgia College voluntarily closed all dining facilities on campus Feb. 6. Baldwin County Health Department Environmental Health Specialists began investigating using standard cluster investigation procedures. From the information collected thus far, public health determined that Georgia College could reopen dining facilities and conduct normal operations.
North Central Health District and Baldwin County Health Department will continue to work with Georgia College and the school’s Student Health Services as the investigation continues.

What is Public Health Doing Now?

North Central Health District and Baldwin County Health Department are collecting samples from affected individuals to be sent to the Georgia Public Health Lab for testing. In addition, public health asks that anyone experiencing gastrointestinal illness complete the survey linked above.
Update: On Feb. 12, North Central Health District received lab results which were positive for norovirus.

What is Norovirus?

Norovirus is a highly contagious virus that causes diarrhea and vomiting. Anyone can get sick from norovirus. Symptoms usually appear 12 hours to two days after the initial exposure to the virus. Most people recover within one to three days. 

How is Norovirus Transmitted?

Norovirus spreads easily from person to person. People with norovirus can shed billions of infectious norovirus particles via their waste (fecal matter or vomit). A person with norovirus can spread the illness while they are symptomatic up to a few days after symptoms disappear. It only take a few virus particles to make others ill. People can encounter virus particles by:
  • Eating food or drinking liquid contaminated by norovirus.
  • Touching surfaces or objects contaminated by norovirus, then putting your hand/fingers near your mouth.
  • Having direct contact with someone infected with norovirus.
    • Handling an ill person’s waste.
    • Sharing an ill person’s food or drink.
    • Sharing and ill person’s utensils.

What Symptoms of Norovirus?

The most common symptoms of norovirus include
  • Stomach cramps
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
Symptoms of norovirus can lead to dehydration, so it is important to drink plenty of fluids will ill. If symptoms do not disappear within one to three days, contact you doctor or healthcare provider.

What Can I Do to Prevent Norovirus Spreading?

  • If you are not ill:
    • Practice proper hand hygiene. Wash hands with soap and running water before eating, preparing food, etc.
    • If you are caring for someone who is sick, make sure to handle and dispose of waste properly.
    • Wash laundry thoroughly – wash any soiled clothing or linens that may be contaminated.
    • Disinfect surfaces that may be contaminated.
    • Handle and prepare food safely.
  • If you are ill:
    • Stay away from school, work or social activities.
    • Wait at least 48 hours after symptoms disappear before returning to your normal schedule.
    • If you have severe symptoms, or if symptoms do not disappear within three days, contact your doctor or healthcare provider.
    • Do not handle or prepare food for anyone but yourself.

Additional Resources

About North Central Health District
North Central Health District is a nationally accredited public health provider dedicated to preventing disease, promoting health and protecting Central Georgia communities against health threats through education, service, advocacy and collaboration. NCHD serves people of all classes and economic status within Baldwin, Crawford, Hancock, Houston, Jasper, Jones, Macon-Bibb, Monroe, Peach, Putnam, Twiggs, Washington and Wilkinson Counties. Appointments can be made for certain services. Fees are based on income for those without insurance. For more information about NCHD, visit NCHD52.org and follow NCHD on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.
 

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