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Apparent Virus Spreads In Brunswick Shelter

BOLIVIA – Officials responded Friday to reports of gastrointestinal symptoms typical of a Norovirus at the West Brunswick evacuation shelter.

According to a news release by the county, the shelter staff was working with the Brunswick County Health Department and put in place enhanced cleaning methods and other measures. The health department has begun its epidemiological work to confirm whether the illness is in fact Norovirus.

According to the release, Norovirus outbreaks are caused by a group of related viruses that account for more than 90 percent of gastrointestinal illness outbreaks in the United States each year. Noroviruses can be found in stool and vomit and are highly contagious. They are known for sweeping through schools, office buildings and other close quarters, and infecting a large number of people.

Symptoms of Norovirus illness usually begin about 24 to 48 hours after close exposure to Norovirus and can appear as early as 12 hours after exposure and include the following:

  • Nausea.
  • Vomiting.
  • Diarrhea
  • Abdominal cramps.
  • Low-grade fever or none at all.

People may feel very sick and vomit multiple times and/or have many loose stools a day. Most people get better within a day or two, and they have no long-term health effects related to their illness. However, shedding of the virus may continue for two weeks. At times, affected individuals, usually the very young and elderly may become dehydrated as they are unable to drink enough liquids to replace the liquids lost because of vomiting and diarrhea.

“Thorough hand washing following toilet use and before handling food is the best way to prevent the spread of these viruses,” Cris Harrelson, director of the Brunswick County Health Department, said in the news release.  Contact your doctor to seek advice if your symptoms last longer than a few days or if you already have a serious illness.

Those seeking shelter should go to South Brunswick High School at 100 Cougar Drive in Boiling Spring Lakes.

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Staff Report

The story was compiled by staff members of Coastal Review Online.