Multiple norovirus outbreaks occur in Nebraska care facilities

The Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services announced on Tuesday that it received several reports of norovirus outbreaks in long-term care facilities in the last few weeks.

The DHHS said that when there are outbreaks in facilities, it is likely norovirus is circulating in communities as well. The virus spreads quickly and easily and can cause vomiting, nausea and diarrhea. Other symptoms include stomach cramps, headaches, body aches and fever.

The illness typically begins 12 to 48 hours after exposure and lasts one to three days. Treatment for the disease is supportive therapy to prevent dehydration.

"People who are vomiting and have diarrhea should drink plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration," Joseph Acierno, the chief medical officer and director of public health for the DHHS, said. "Young children and the elderly can become dehydrated more easily and should be watched carefully."

Norovirus infections can be spread when people with vomiting or diarrhea handle and prepare food. The disease can also spread through direct contact with an infected person, hand-to-mouth transfer after touching contaminated objects or surfaces and airborne droplets of vomit.

The DHHS said that people working in nursing homes, child care centers or schools should pay close attention to residents or children with norovirus symptoms. The virus can spread quickly in these types of environments.