Listen to your mother

Published 9:47 am Wednesday, December 18, 2013

It turns out that Mom was right all along, and don’t you go acting all surprised and stuff.

Wash your hands.

That’s the single most effective way to avoid spreading a highly contagious — and pretty ugly – norovirus that has begun to show up in Tidewater in recent days. The highly contagious gastrointestinal virus causes vomiting, diarrhea and abdominal cramping. You can be sure that’s not the way you want to spend your Christmas.

According to Lisa Engle, a Chesapeake-based epidemiologist from the Virginia Department of Health, the bug hangs around throughout the year, but it spreads to more people during the winter. Last season saw 184 norovirus outbreaks in Virginia. Folks stay inside more during the winter, and they’re more likely to touch surfaces that have been contaminated by folks who are sick.

That’s why the Department of Health also advises to be extra careful about, for instance, taking the kids to see Grandma at the nursing home during the period of the outbreak.

If either of them is sick, it’s extremely easy for the other to be infected. The first line of defense, then, is just to be aware of everyone’s health and take appropriate measures.

The second line of defense is to wash your hands, whether you’re healthy or sick — but especially if you’re sick. Also, if you’re sick, don’t prepare food for others. And if someone in your household has been experiencing the symptoms above, disinfect contaminated surfaces with bleach-based household cleaners, washing soiled clothing and linens with hot water and detergent.

And, just like your mother, we’re going to tell you one more time: Wash your hands.