TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — The health authorities are sounding the alarm over norovirus-induced gastroenteritis, with cases soaring over the past week.
Taiwan recorded over 138,000 cases of diarrhea between Feb. 21 and 27, reflecting an uptick in stomach illnesses following the Lunar New Year. Over the past four weeks, 87 diarrhea clusters have been reported nationwide, and 97 percent of the 58 cases where pathogens were identified pointed to norovirus as the culprit, according to the Taiwan Centers for Disease Control (CDC).
Members of the public are urged to improve their hygiene, as the virus is transmitted via the fecal-oral route, which involves contaminated food or water or contact with infected persons.
Symptoms of the illness, which along with diarrhea include vomiting, nausea, fever, and muscle aches, usually develop 24 to 72 hours after exposure. Symptoms could last up to 10 days, and some patients may still be contagious after they recover, the CDC cautioned.
The use of alcohol rubs or hand sanitizer provides limited protection against norovirus, as it lacks a lipid viral envelope. Frequent hand washing is advised, and surfaces can be sanitized with a solution of 20 milliliters of household bleach mixed with 1,000 ml of water, suggested CDC doctor Lin Yung-ching (林詠青).