“If emergency response personnel and emergency rooms are not saturated enough due to the flu, the winter vomiting bug, or called the “norovirus,” is making its rounds says Fire Chief Sam DiGiovanna.” The Los Angeles City Fire Dept as well as other fire department/emergency medical services across the country are increasing ambulance service to deal with flu related calls.


The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that the norovirus causes about 70,000 hospitalizations and 800 deaths each year.

Some of the virus’ common symptoms include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and stomach pains. The CDC points out that the norovirus is often referred to as the stomach flu, but it is unrelated to influenza.  A new norovirus strain, GII.4, was detected last year in Australia.  The strain hit the U.K. and sickened over a million people. “It has now reached the United States and this new strain appears to be taking over.  Today, approximately 21 million illnesses are attributable to norovirus in the U.S. each year, reports the CDC.  The norovirus can also spread quickly in closed places.


The intensity of this virus may vary, but one of the most dangerous side effects is dehydration, which can be particularly deadly in the elderly and young children.  Infected people should be sure to drink plenty of fluids – avoiding those containing caffeine or alcohol – to reduce this risk.


Despite both a lack of vaccine to protect against and drugs to treat a norovirus infection, there are some steps you can take to reduce your chances of catching it:


  • Most importantly, wash your hands often with soap and warm water; alcohol-based hand sanitizers do not kill this virus.


  • Clean and disinfect any contaminated surface using a bleach-based cleaner.  Even mixing two to 25 tablespoons of bleach in a gallon of water will work.


  • Wash any soiled laundry items separate from non-soiled items on the highest heat and longest cycle and dry completely.


  • Do not prepare food while infected, and by the same token, do not eat food prepared by an infected person.

A closing thought… Were reminded daily to exercise  responsibility in our lives to prevent injuries/accidents/illness: “Don’t text and drive, don’t drink and drive, be cognizant of second hand smoke etc – all so true and certainly needs to be exercised! Remember – its equally important to practice good hygiene and take care of ourselves. Nothing can be more uninviting than to be in a store, restaurant, gym (or any public place or work) and watch someone cough, sneeze or hack without taking proper precaution (its an unconscious act that we need to be conscious of!). Why are so many flu viruses in an epidemic? Because we mentally immune ourselves from taking proper precautions against the spread. Be responsible! Cover your mouth, excuse yourself from others, stay home until it passes…  “Since influenza can spread airborne up to about six feet away when someone is sick and can also live on hard surfaces for up to two hours, it is YOUR responsibility to be considerate of others DiGiovanna Says.”


This is one ‘thing’ you don’t want to meet or introduce to others. Consult your physician for additional information or if you experience “any” flu like symptoms immediately!       http://www.cdc.gov/norovirus/index.html


Fire Chief Sam DiGiovanna


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