BEND, OR -- Norovirus has returned to Central Oregon. Staff at Regency Village Senior Living in Bend confirm they are in their seventh day of lockdown, to try and contain the fast-spreading illness.
Heather Kaisner, with Deschutes County Public Health, says Norovirus is gastrointestinal and highly contagious, "Norovirus causes symptoms such as diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramps. Symptoms usually begin about 12 - 48 hours after exposure to the virus." She says it takes just one person to spread the illness to everyone in a building, "Unfortunately, anywhere that people congregate like long-term care facilities, schools, daycares, they have a higher risk of having a Norovirus outbreak because it is so contagious," adding, "We do worry about people who are very young or very old."
Kaisner tells KBND News, "It's not treatable, because it is a virus." But, there are steps people can take to prevent catching it, "It's spread person-to-person, so if you don't wash your hands and you get any of the virus on your hands, and then touch your face." She adds, "The importance of personal hygiene, I cannot stress enough. So, good hand washing etiquette, cleaning surfaces, are going to help prevent spread." If you think you've been exposed, Kaisner suggests staying home.
Because the symptoms mimic other illnesses, Kaisner says many people don't realize they have Norovirus, "Oftentimes, what we'll hear in the winter, is when people say they have the stomach flu, but that's actually Norovirus."