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‘An astronomical rise’: Kansas health leaders warn of spike in norovirus cases

By Brian Johnson

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OLATHE, Kansas (KMBC) — Local health officials warn of a huge spike in norovirus cases.

Officials say the number of cases is high, particularly in Johnson and Douglas counties on the Kansas side.

Wastewater tests show extremely high counts of the norovirus in those counties.

“What we’re seeing is a real astronomical increase,” said Sonia Jordan, director of information technology for the Lawrence-Douglas County Department of Public Health. “What we’re seeing right now is unusual and I’ve heard it happening in communities across the country.”

Norovirus is commonly known as the stomach flu, which includes vomiting and diarrhea.

It is highly contagious. Cruise ships, school trips and other gatherings are notorious for mass broadcasting.

People can spread it before they feel sick and up to three days after symptoms have disappeared.

“The really important thing for people to know is that hand sanitizer doesn’t work for norovirus,” said Elizabeth Holzschuh, director of epidemiology for the Johnson County Health Department.

There are really no treatments, so prevention is number one. Health experts recommend washing and scrubbing your hands.

Students should also bring water bottles to school, as fountain handles can spread disease.

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