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Norovirus symptoms to look out for as outbreak hits northern San Luis Obispo Co.

Posted at 8:11 AM, May 19, 2023

Public health officials in San Luis Obispo County continue to monitor a suspected norovirus outbreak in the Paso Robles area.

Health officials say that norovirus symptoms are similar to the stomach flu, but what’s different is that you get sick and generally recover much faster.

A suspected norovirus outbreak has sicked about 80 customers at a restaurant in northern San Luis Obispo County, but public health officials are not saying where the outbreak started.

“In California, there are about 2,500 outbreaks of norovirus every year,” said Jessie Burmester, an infectious disease specialist with SLO County Public Health.

This is one of the larger outbreaks seen in San Luis Obispo County in recent years.

Burmester says that most people who are infected can recover at home but there are warning signs to look out for.

“We commonly find vomiting and diarrhea and a lot of lethargy, fatigue that happen afterwards,” explained Burmester. “Most of the time, you won’t need medical intervention. If you end up finding yourself really dehydrated, we ask that you seek medical care and speak with your doctor or nurse.”

Medical experts say that symptoms usually appear within 24 to 48 hours after exposure.

“In general, I tell people to expect it to be bad for two or three days then improving over two or three days and if you’re not pretty much back to normal by a week, you should be seen,” said Dr. Brian Roberts at SLO Urgent Care.

He says that norovirus is very common and infects millions of Americans every year.

According to the CDC, you can get norovirus many times in your life because there are different types of the virus.

“If you look at young adults - 90 percent - you can prove by antibody testing that they’ve already had it, whether they know it or not,” said Dr. Roberts.

Public health officials say that the outbreak has likely peaked, but more cases are possible. SLO public health officials say they've received reports of approximately 80 cases associated with the latest suspected outbreak as of Thursday.

“When it’s a norovirus incident, we’re really hoping to find if there’s anyone who has been ill, having them stay home from work until about 48 hours after their symptoms have resolved, and then also doing mass disinfection and cleaning. Hopefully, that can be done without any kind of shutdowns,” explained Burmester.

Public health has the authority to order a restaurant to shut down for deep cleaning if the outbreak doesn’t stop.

“It’s a very common disease but, unfortunately, in an outbreak scenario, you see a lot of cases because it’s really easy to transmit,” explained Burmester.

According to the CDC, norovirus can stay on objects and surfaces and still infect people for days, even weeks.

Health officials say there have been more norovirus outbreaks than usual this year.

The Santa Barbara County Public Health Department would not disclose how many outbreaks or cases have been reported there recently.