It could be a bad season for the stomach bug. Early signs are that it will be a particularly busy season for outbreaks of the gastrointestinal illness called norovirus that strikes often during winter months, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Health.
Norovirus causes nausea, diarrhea and vomiting in children and adults. It spreads easily, making it difficult to prevent. It can be especially difficult to stop the spread in group settings such as schools, day cares and health care facilities.
That’s because the virus can be spread through food, water, on hands and through the air; the virus can continue to be shed for a week or more after recovering from the illness; and it can survive on surfaces for three to four weeks at room temperature.
“What is remarkable about norovirus is how easy it is to pass from person to person,” says Deborah Fry, manager of infection control and prevention at Lehigh Valley Health Network. “Only a small amount is needed to make a person sick and it can live on surfaces for long periods of time if not properly cleaned.
“Frequent hand washing and careful cleaning of the environment is the best advice we can offer to prevent illness. Staying home when you are ill is also important to prevent others from getting sick.”
Experts recommend these steps to prevent the spread of norovirus. Read More
Despite ongoing cleanup efforts and many still anxiously waiting for their power to return following superstorm Sandy, about 11,000 people turned out to get vaccinated during Lehigh Valley Health Network’s 15th annual community flu campaign Nov. 3 and 4 at Dorney Park and Coca-Cola Park, respectively. Health network volunteers gave shots to adults and children 6 months and older during the all drive-thru event. Read More
The arrival of fall and cooler weather means winter and flu season can’t be far behind. Health experts will tell you the best way to protect yourself against the flu is to get vaccinated. Lehigh Valley Health Network once again this year will be teaming up with Dorney Park, the Lehigh Valley IronPigs, area food banks, the M.A.R.T.I.N. Flu Foundation, and radio stations CAT Country 96 and WLEV 100.7 to provide free drive-thru seasonal flu shots to the community. The shots for both adults and children six (6) months and older will be given at Dorney Park on Saturday, Nov. 3 and at Coca-Cola Park on Sunday, Nov. 4 from 9 a.m.-3 p.m. each day. Those interested in getting a shot should fill out a consent form available online or by calling 610-402-CARE (2273) in advance and bring it with them. They also are urged to register online to select a location and vaccination time slot. A food drive to benefit local food banks again will be part of the campaign. Donations of non-perishable, non-expired food are optional and not required to receive a shot.
Deven Jackson, 8, of Perry County, Pa., recently lost both his legs to a rare form of meningitis. While he was a patient in Lehigh Valley Health Network’s Burn Center, where he received care after his illness, Jackson met his new hero: Jerod Minich. Minich, a prosthetic technician for Hangar Prosthetics, was a standout athlete in high school and enjoys hobbies like rock climbing, ice climbing and swimming. He can also relate to Jackson because he lost his legs due to diabetes when he was just a toddler. Understanding the little boy’s difficulty in dealing with the situation, Minich paid a special visit to Jackson last week. During the visit, he delivered several items provided by Jackson’s favorite NFL team, the New York Giants, arranged through the health network’s amputee support group. Jackson was all smiles after the visit and Minich says the pair plans to keep in touch.
The Centers for Disease Control recommends that U.S. citizens aged 13-65 be tested for HIV and made aware of their status. Because it’s not always convenient for people to visit a testing site, the Lehigh Valley Health Network Aids Activities Office (AAO) uses a mobile testing van to perform free, off-site HIV screenings. Visiting churches, health fairs and other community venues, a team from the AAO performs rapid oral 20-minute HIV screenings and offers HIV prevention education. Those newly identified with HIV infection are linked to the program’s care services. To inquire about the team’s availability to visit your organization or event, call 610-969-2400.