NMDOH: Northeast New Mexico seeing high number of norovirus cases

NEW MEXICO (KRQE) – Norovirus season is upon us and the country is seeing a high number of cases. The state’s Department of Health is urging New Mexicans to stay vigilant in hopes of reducing the spread of the GI tract-attacking illness.

Chief Medical Officer for the New Mexico Department of Health Miranda Durham says that New Mexico has seen high norovirus numbers in the northeast part of the state. “We are looking like we are sort of back to pre-pandemic levels. So it’s about, I think we’ve had 15 outbreaks that have been reported to the Department of Health since mid-September,” says Durham.

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According to Durham, there have been around 335 cases involving outbreaks at things like nursing homes and daycares. The number does not reflect individuals reporting single cases of norovirus. “And this really isn’t a seasonal virus. You can get norovirus any time of year, but the most common time is, you know, late fall to early spring,” Durham says.

She says there aren’t any antibiotic or vaccine-related treatments for norovirus, it’s just a lay low and let it pass process. “It can make people feel quite ill and feel fairly miserable for one to three days,” says Durham. “Some people do need medical attention because of the risk of dehydration, but for most people, it’s just trying to keep yourself hydrated at home.”

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Durham says norovirus can last on surfaces for weeks so cleaning them with a 10:1 dilute bleach solution as well as washing one’s hands are key to keeping the spread minimal. “The number one thing is handwashing…with soap and water. Hand sanitizer does not work as well against norovirus,” she says.

Durham says the big thing is to stay home if you’re sick. “If you do have norovirus, you don’t want to be preparing food for family members and certainly don’t want to be at work,” she says. “For people who are in the food handling business, or taking care of people, [you] really need to stay home 72 hours after your symptoms resolve.” She says even after symptoms have stopped, people can still transmit the virus.

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