Warning: Stomach Bug Spreading Quickly in U.S. West Coast, CDC Alerts

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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued a warning about the rapid spread of stomach viruses, specifically norovirus, in the western United States, with the region experiencing the second-highest rate of cases nationwide.

Norovirus, often referred to as the stomach flu, is highly contagious, and recent data from the Bay Area’s wastewater samples shows a concerning increase in virus particles. Despite this, healthcare professionals stress the importance of simple preventive measures to reduce infection risks.

Earlier this month, a cruise departing from San Francisco reported over 150 cases of illness, with symptoms consistent with the stomach flu, including vomiting and diarrhoea.

Warning: Stomach Bug Spreading Quickly in U.S. West Coast, CDC Alerts

The CDC’s latest findings reveal a more than 12% increase in norovirus cases in the Western region over the past three weeks, putting it just behind the Northeast, which saw a 14% rise.

Norovirus spreads easily from person to person and can survive on surfaces like doorknobs and countertops for weeks.

While often called “stomach flu” or “food poisoning,” norovirus is distinct from influenza. It thrives in closed and crowded places like schools, hospitals, nursing homes, and cruise ships.

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According to the California Department of Public Health, norovirus causes over 20 million illnesses annually in the state, leading to up to 71,000 hospitalizations and tragically, up to 800 deaths.

Health officials advise the public to remain vigilant with preventive practices, including regular handwashing, disinfecting surfaces, and staying home when unwell, to curb the virus’s further spread. Seeking prompt medical attention for persistent or worsening symptoms is recommended for proper care and containment.

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