Climbing norovirus infections have physicians on alert

Norovirus rates continue to climb after the CDC recently reported 15 percent of test results for the virus are coming back positive nationwide — the highest rate since March, ABC News reported Feb. 10.

Though infection rates are high, it is still in the peak season for the virus, which typically runs from November to April annually, according to the CDC. 

Norovirus usually spreads via contact with infected individuals or by touching contaminated foods or surfaces. Disinfecting surfaces, washing one's hands, rinsing fruits and vegetables and cooking raw food thoroughly can help, but ultimately staying away from anyone infected if possible is key. 

"Bleach is my friend right now," Annette Cameron, MD, a pediatrician at New Haven, Conn.-based Yale School of Medicine, told The Atlantic in a Feb. 18 report after her son had recently been ill with the virus. 

High infection rates of norovirus are not unique to the U.S. — it is also on the rise across several countries, including the U.K. and Canada. The serious climb in infections elsewhere is keeping health officials in the U.S. on alert. 

The U.K. Health Security Agency reported that adults older than 65 are contracting the virus "at rates that haven't been seen in over a decade," according to The Atlantic.

Caitlin Rivers, PhD, an infectious disease epidemiologist at Baltimore-based Johns Hopkins University, told The Atlantic that U.S. health patterns tend to mirror those of the U.K., so it is something for officials to keep an eye on in the coming weeks.

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