Outbreaks of Gastrointestinal Illness More Prevalent This Time of Year

Dec. 21, 2018

The Fairfax County Health Department is seeing an increase in cases of gastrointestinal illness in the community and is reminding people to stay home when sick and for 24 hours after getting better, and to practice good handwashing to prevent further spread.

Gastrointestinal viruses, like norovirus, spread from person-to-person. The most common symptoms of norovirus include nausea, vomiting, stomach pain, and diarrhea. Additional symptoms may include fever, headache, and body aches.

Symptoms usually develop 12 to 48 hours after being exposed to the virus. There is no vaccine to prevent or medication to treat norovirus. Most people will get better within one to three days, but young children, older adults, and people with other medical conditions are more at risk for complications, such as dehydration. If vomiting and diarrhea continues for more than a few days, you should contact a physician.

“Holiday time, with family and friends getting together, is also a time when gastrointestinal illness viruses can easily be spread,” said Dr. Benjamin Schwartz, Director of Epidemiology and Population Health.

“Be aware and take steps to prevent illness.  Good handwashing, staying away from others when sick and for 24 more hours, and using a cleaner with bleach on any surfaces that may have been contaminated with the virus by someone who is ill can help keep the holidays healthy and happy.”

Read more on the Health Department website.