Norovirus Hits Youngstown

By Samantha Armstrong

Buzz of norovirus outbreaks are spreading just as fast as the virus itself. According to The Vindicator, certain medical centers are swamped with norovirus patients and have recommended treating the virus at home when experiencing non-severe symptoms.

Mary Dunn, a registered nurse at Northside Medical Center, said she has noticed the hospital becoming busier with flu patients during this season.

“The norovirus usually lasts 24 to 78 hours and is very similar to the stomach-flu,” Dunn said. “A visit to the hospital is not necessary unless the symptoms you are experiencing are abnormal or dehydration is a factor.”

Dunn said the most important thing individuals can do to keep themselves out of the hospital is stay hydrated.

“Usually the only thing we can do to treat a patient that comes to the hospital is IV them to replenish his or her liquids and send them home,” Dunn said.

Dr. Jessica Handel, director of Mercy Health Student Health Services, has been dealing with quite a few norovirus cases this season.

Handel defines noroviruses as viruses that affect the stomach, often called gastroenteritis. This is due to exposure to someone else with the illness or ingesting food or touching surfaces with objects contaminated with the virus.

Through Handel’s, she stated that the most common symptoms of the virus are diarrhea, throwing up, nausea and stomach pain. Other symptoms may include a fever, headache or body aches.

“It is very contagious. Students that get norovirus should drink plenty of liquids to replace fluids lost from diarrhea and dehydration,” Handel said. “Try to drink water throughout the day. You can find oral rehydration solutions over-the-counter at a pharmacy. Sport drinks and beverages without caffeine or alcohol can also be helpful, but use these in moderation.”

If a virus is contracted and one cannot keep food or liquids down, it is important to seek medical attention to prevent dehydration. This may include dizziness and producing less urine, inability to keep down any food or fluids or symptoms lasting longer than three days.

Handel said that they have noticed the norovirus has affected the traffic of patients at the Youngstown State University Student Health Clinic.

“We have spent time educating students how to care for themselves once they have the virus,” Handel said.

Natalie Smith, a third year criminal justice major at YSU, said she battled the norovirus this season.

“It was awful; I couldn’t keep anything down for two days and couldn’t go to class or work for three days,” Smith said. “I can understand why so many people go to the hospital to treat it, because you feel like you’re dying.”

In order to avoid getting the virus, Handel suggests avoiding exposure to vomit or diarrhea, avoid touching surfaces that could possibly be contaminated and avoid touching any open surface, such as the mouth or eyes.

“Hand hygiene is another way to protect you from the virus. Hand hygiene consists of washing hands for a full 20 seconds,” Handel said. “Utilizing hand sanitizers in addition to hand-washing is also beneficial.”

The norovirus must be taken seriously in most cases. If a student is experiencing symptoms, phone the YSU Student Health Clinic at 330-941-3489 to schedule an appointment.