Re-post from March 12, 2013
Many of us don’t realize that we have the potential to spread many things to others like our love, anger, opinions, and even our germs. During my last hospital stay, two weeks ago, I saw my nurse suit up in what appeared to be full operation room gear, but I never asked her why. I typically do not come out of my hospital room because I’m in so much pain (because of sickle cell disease), but I did have to leave my room for an x-ray, which is when I saw my nurse in the scary get up. While being wheeled to x-ray there were doors to patients’ rooms loaded down with all types of gloves, masks, and suits. I did not think much about the door, because you see these types of things in the hospital but you don’t see people actually using them.
So, after my release there was a report on National Public Radio about an epidemic that is being transferred person to person called norovirus. In an average year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 21 million Americans get the norovirus, with classic stomach flu symptoms such as vomiting and diarrhea and a recorded eight hundred usually die. Symptoms come on very suddenly, within hours after a person has been exposed to norovirus. Because no one has immunity to this new strain, more Americans — perhaps 50 percent more, the CDC says — could become violently ill.
While the flu is spread mostly in the air by sneezes and coughs, along with a person needing to breathe in as many as 1,000 virus particles to get sick is regularly the case. Norovirus is far more contagious because it only takes 18 (instead of 1000) of the norovirus particles for a person to immediately become ill. The germs that are left on hard surfaces from the flu can last two to four hours on hard surfaces outside your body. However, the norovirus can survive and remain infectious for weeks on hard surfaces like grocery and department store credit card machines, ATM machines, door handles, grocery cart handles, escalator hand rests, and elevator buttons just to name a few. Some precautions can be made according to medical experts that will help keep the norovirus away. A few suggestions include: cleaning the house with bleach not just regular detergents. They also say that while hand sanitizers kill the flu virus, they are not effective at getting rid of the norovirus but, washing your hands with soap and water repeatedly to keep the norovirus off them is more effective. Possibly even suiting up like my nurse did by utilizing the free masks and gloves provided in health care facilities. Remember not to put your hands in your face, touch your eating utensils, serving utensils, or food without first washing your hands. You may want to even look at ordering from menus in restaurants instead of going to the open food bars found in many chain restaurants where you eat all you want or even salad bars.
The CDC has even advised doctors not to be so quick and try not to prescribe antibiotics for the flu, sinus or ear infections and to allow the body to heal itself. Doctors have been asked to take this course of treatment because this norovirus is actually a complicated super bug that does not have a cure and it is growing stronger and can be fatal! So, I give you all this information for you to do what? Hopefully, you will take heed to this warning of how our health is on the line, those people around us that we love are at risk, and people that you may or may not know who are not armed with this information can possibly be the enemy if they display flu like symptoms. Encourage your co-workers to stay home with any type of flu like virus. Use bleach in your cleaning! Wipe down your work area every day before sitting to start your day and even when you return from lunch with bleach wipes. There is also aresole bleach spray that you can spray in the area or on the person who is displaying symptoms that may harm you. Just think about how easy it is to spread this virus with no antibiotic or a cure; it can cause a ripple or domino effect in our homes, work place, churches, communities, and where ever you do business. Don't be embarrassed to do what you need to do, to keep norovirus at bay. Sneezing, coughing, nose blowing, flushed in the face, used tissues, and holding one's head are all red flags for you to be concerned about that person doing these things in your vicinity! Suit up people, norovirus has declared war on our health! (References: NPR and ABC News). By Tina Kay Hughes www.tinakay.net