New strain of norovirus reaches NC; 7 confirmed cases

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RALEIGH, N.C. — Seven outbreaks of norovirus have reportedly been confirmed across North Carolina so far this year.

According to the Raleigh News & Observer, state health officials are working to prevent further outbreaks of a new strain of the intestinal disease — a group of viruses capable of causing severe diarrhea, vomiting and stomach pain.

“Most of our outbreaks are in old folks’ homes,” Dr. Zack Moore, a state medical epidemiologist, told the paper.  “We’ve unfortunately had quite a bit of experience in stopping it in those settings.”

Health officials in Guilford, Davidson, Alamance, Forsyth, Rockingham and Stokes counties tell FOX8’s Carter Coyle they have not received any reports of outbreaks in their respective counties. 

This season’s new strain has been dubbed Sydney 2012 because officials believe it originated in Australia, a UNC-Chapel Hill professor of epidemiology tells the News & Observer.

The viruses are most common during the winter.  A new strain typically emerges every few years.

While alcohol-based hand sanitizers do not kill the virus, Moore says carefully washing hands — especially after using the bathroom — is the best way to refrain from becoming sick.

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