Minnesota has a bunch of norovirus

Last week something respiratory knocked me out of action for a few days. Between Nyquil, Tylenol and the bug I was writing emails and texts from a world of delirium. But nothing quite compares to the feeling of norovirus: stomach cramps, projectile vomiting and pooping liquid.

According to KARE 11, that’s what a bunch of folks in Minnesota (and elsewhere are experiencing right now).10849902_719581291471357_3442145704847569295_n

The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) announced Monday that approximately 40 outbreaks of norovirus illness have been reported since the beginning of November. Those outbreaks have occurred in a variety of settings, including restaurants, schools, nursing homes and private gatherings.

When people think of “stomach flu,” they often don’t appreciate that they could have gotten their illness from food or that they could pass the virus to others through food. Prevention of norovirus infections is simple in principle, officials say. Just practice good personal hygiene and observe appropriate food-handling procedures.

“People need to remember to wash their hands, thoroughly” said Dr. Kirk Smith, who heads the Foodborne Diseases Unit at MDH. “Wash your hands after using the toilet, before consuming food, and before preparing food for yourself or others. If everybody did that, we could prevent a majority of the illness caused by these viruses.”

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About Ben Chapman

Dr. Ben Chapman is a professor and food safety extension specialist at North Carolina State University. As a teenager, a Saturday afternoon viewing of the classic cable movie, Outbreak, sparked his interest in pathogens and public health. With the goal of less foodborne illness, his group designs, implements, and evaluates food safety strategies, messages, and media from farm-to-fork. Through reality-based research, Chapman investigates behaviors and creates interventions aimed at amateur and professional food handlers, managers, and organizational decision-makers; the gate keepers of safe food. Ben co-hosts a biweekly podcast called Food Safety Talk and tries to further engage folks online through Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and, maybe not surprisingly, Pinterest. Follow on Twitter @benjaminchapman.