Officials: Norovirus spreading at Fulton Co. restaurants - DC News FOX 5 DC WTTG

Officials: Norovirus spreading at Fulton Co. restaurants

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Fulton County Health Services is warning restaurants and the public about a particularly bad strain of a disease that's sweeping the country. Officials have tracked several outbreaks of a new strain of norovirus at area restaurants.

Health officials say the strain has been around for the last nine months and did not hit Atlanta until about two weeks ago.

The norovirus causes nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and stomach cramping. Some people may also experience fever, chills, headaches, muscle aches and a general feeling of fatigue. Dr. Patrice Harris of Fulton County's health department says that noroviruses are difficult to stop.

"Noroviruses are easily transmitted by touching a contaminated surface as well as by direct contact, or by eating food or drinking liquid that have been contaminated with the virus," Harris said.

A person can go from feeling fine to very sick in a short period of time. The illness typically lasts about one or two days. It can be spread by eating or drinking something that's been contaminated with the virus. Someone could also get it by just touching a contaminated surface.

Doctors say they have identified 20 people who have gotten the strain while eating at establishments connected with the strain.

"I would anticipate that this is a very tiny tip of a very large iceberg. Many people are getting sick and not even recognizing that they're associated with this," said Dr. Matthew McKenna of the Fulton County Department of Health and Wellness.

Health officials said that they've been unable to tie the 20 confirmed norovirus cases to any one restaurant. They have given a health advisory to the Georgia Restaurant Association so restaurants can take proper precautions.

Fulton County health officials say washing your hands with soap and water is the best thing you can do to prevent the spread of the virus. They're also advising restaurant workers who contract norovirus to not return to work until three days after their symptoms end.

The CDC says most people get through norovirus in a couple of days, but it can lead to dehydration, so if you do get sick, make sure you're getting enough fluids to replace the ones you're losing.

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