April 4, 2022 – While coronavirus cases across the US continue to decline, another virus is climbing to its pre-pandemic levels, according to NBC News.
The outbreak of norovirus, which causes the stomach flu, has increased dramatically since early January. As COVID-19 restrictions are lifted, people are gathering more, which is likely to accelerate infections.
Since early January, the number of weekly outbreaks has gone from less than 10 to more than 50, according to the latest CDC data. The data is based on reports from health departments in a dozen states across the country: Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, New Mexico, Ohio, Oregon, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming.
Norovirus outbreaks appear to be returning to pre-pandemic levels after declining during most of the pandemic. Between August 2021 and early March, the CDC reported 448 norovirus outbreaks. During the same period last year, only 78 outbreaks were reported.
The level of this year’s norovirus outbreak is still below or within the normal range seen since 2012. Norovirus outbreaks peak between November and April and begin to decline in the spring, reaching low levels throughout the summer and early fall.
The data does not suggest that the norovirus outbreak is directly linked to the coronavirus outbreak, NBC News reported. But this year’s increase is probably related to an overall reduction in public health measures aimed at COVID-19, which has allowed other viruses to spread. For example, flu cases have increased this year, but are below pre-pandemic levels, according to CDC data.
Norovirus is highly contagious and is spread between humans through infected surfaces and contaminated food or water. Commonly known as the stomach flu, the illness caused by norovirus can cause symptoms such as diarrhea, nausea, abdominal pain and vomiting.
NBC News reported that norovirus outbreaks are more common in areas where people are close, especially on cruise ships and daycare centers.
Because norovirus is spread on surfaces and contaminated food, the CDC recommends good hand hygiene after using the bathroom and when preparing food. People should rinse fruits and vegetables before eating them and cook shellfish thoroughly. To prevent the spread of norovirus, people should stay home when they are sick and for 2 days after symptoms stop.