Louisiana state health officials are investigating a norovirus outbreak.
Health officials are responding to an outbreak of norovirus at a Lake Charles casino after people became ill at a Mardi Gras Ball there, The Acadiana Advocate reports.
According to the newspaper, numerous visitors showed symptoms of the highly contagious stomach virus during a Carnival event at the L’auberge Casino. Officials with the Louisiana Office of Public Health said they were investigating the incident Thursday but did not confirm how many people had been affected.
Norovirus is a severe gastrointestinal illness that is often mistaken as the “stomach flu.” While it isn’t related to influenza, norovirus similarly causes nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, pain, mild fever and other symptoms, according to the LDH.
Effects of the illness typically are gone after 24-48 and start about a day after being infected, officials said. However, people with norovirus can remain contagious weeks after feeling better.
“Some people can continue to spread norovirus for up to three weeks. There are no medications to prevent norovirus, which is why frequent handwashing is your best protection,” LDH immunization director Dr. Frank Welch said in a press release.
Welch said the illness easily spreads from sharing utensils with a contagious person, consuming contaminated foods and drinks and touching contaminated surfaces.
PREVENTING THE SPREAD OF NOROVIRUS
Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water
especially after using the toilet or changing diapers
always before eating, preparing, or handling food, and
before giving yourself or someone else medicine.
Norovirus can be found in your vomit or poop even before you start feeling sick. The virus can stay in your poop for 2 weeks or more after you feel better. It is important to continue washing your hands often during this time.
You can use alcohol-based hand sanitizers in addition to hand washing. But, you should not use hand sanitizer as a substitute for washing your hands with soap and water. Hand sanitizers aren’t as effective as washing hands with soap and water at removing norovirus particles. See “Handwashing: Clean Hands Save Lives.”
Handle and prepare food safely
Carefully wash fruits and vegetables before preparing and eating them. Cook oysters and other shellfish thoroughly before eating them.
Be aware that noroviruses are relatively resistant to heat. They can survive temperatures as high as 145°F and quick steaming processes that are often used for cooking shellfish.
Food that might be contaminated with norovirus should be thrown out.
Keep sick infants and children out of areas where food is being handled and prepared.