No Norwalk virus cases reported here

While 15 people at the Thunder Bay Regional Hospital (McKellar site) are believed to have contracted the Norwalk virus, no cases have been reported yet in the Kenora-Rainy River Districts, the Northwestern Health Unit said Thursday.
“There’s none that we know of,” said Dr. Pete Sarsfield, CEO and medical officer of health for the health unit.
“That doesn’t mean there hasn’t been any,” he stressed. “But if there was any in any institutions, like hospitals, we would have been contacted.”
While the Norwalk virus has been prominent in the media recently, with a number of outbreaks reported in Canada and the United States, including on board several cruise ships, Dr. Sarsfield noted the virus is by no means “new.”
“The unusual characteristic of the virus, which is a variation of the 24-hour ’flu, is that it has a tendency to rapidly spread in contained populations, like hospitals, prisons, and so on,” he remarked.
“But the mystery that remains at this time is why is it happening like this, why is it so widespread?”
Symptoms include vomiting, nausea, and diarrhea. Infected people usually recover in two-three days without serious or long-term health effects, Dr. Sarsfield said.
“With people who are healthy, it’s like having a mild to moderate stomach ’flu,” he noted. “It only is really serious when the elderly, or people with deficient immune systems, get it.”
The Norwalk virus is passed from the stool of infected persons, with people getting infected by swallowing stool-contaminated food or water.
Symptoms usually appear one-two days after swallowing contaminated food or water.
Dr. Sarsfield noted the simplest step to preventing Norwalk virus infection is “to do like your parents and grandparents said, ‘Wash your hands.’”
Other tips include washing raw vegetables before eating them and disposing of sewage in a sanitary manner.
The virus first was identified in 1972 after an outbreak of gastrointestinal illness in Norwalk, Ohio. Later, other viruses with similar features were described and called Norwalk-like viruses.
Norwalk and Norwalk-like viruses are found worldwide. Humans are the only known hosts.