Madison Deals With Norovirus Outbreak

By: Brock Bergey Email
By: Brock Bergey Email

The medical term is norovirus, but you probably know it better as the stomach flu. Madison health officials are investigating nearly 100 possible cases of the highly contagious illness. There's no treatment or medicine available that will make the stomach flu go away. It's a waiting game--one that's no fun to play.

"This is our most popular disinfectant." Craig Oehrlein says when the stomach flu brings people down--his business tends to goes up.

"Really a little bit goes a long way and would be a hospital grade disinfectant." Oehrlein owns Tommy Tucker Janitorial Products on Madison's east side.

Doctors says prevention is the best way to fight the bug, which causes vomiting and diarrhea.

"There is no antibiotic and there are no drugs" Doctor Chris Crnich works in infectious diseases at UW hospital. He says norovirus affects 20-million Americans each year.

"This is unfortunately part of the human condition and these outbreaks come and go," says Crnich.

Public Health Officials are looking into four separate outbreaks in the Madison area. Tests confirm norovirus sickened a group of patients at the VA hospital last week. Results are still pending from similar cases at Sunny Hill Heath Care Center, Monona Terrace, and the Edgewater Hotel.

"It's unusual in the fact that the cases we are seeing appear to be happening in the outbreak setting rather than the sporadic setting." Doctor Crnich says most people beat the illness in a couple of days.

He says a little common sense goes a long way in staying healthy. "Washing your hands is the old tried and true for preventing this."

And Oehrlein says wash down those surfaces--especially phones, keyboards, and other items you share with others.

"Up to 10 minutes of contact time, wet areas to completely disinfect surfaces," says Oehrlein.

Hospital grade disinfectants cost about 6-dollars a quart.

It's important to note, the stomach flu is not your traditional flu, influenza. Therefore, a flu shot will not keep you from getting it.

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