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Burns & Gambo

New norovirus strain spreading in US

PHOENIX -- The Centers for Disease Control said a new strain of the norovirus is spreading across the country.

The new strain, originating from Australia, is called GII.4 Sydney. There have been 140 confirmed cases in the United States, but the Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the strain is the leading cause of norovirus outbreaks in the U.S.

The norovirus has flulike symptoms.

"Vomiting, diarrhea, general stomach upset," said Shoana Anderson, chief of the Arizona Office of Infectious Disease Services.

Anderson said no cases have shown up in the state yet.

"We do look for norovirus, and we test for it at the state lab, but in order to figure the exact type, it has to go to a special testing facility in California," Anderson said.

It takes a couple of months to get the test results.

This strain of the virus is highly contagious, and a flu shot is no protection. The normal methods of keeping a home clean to stop it from spreading may also be ineffective.

"Usually, people are going to want to do a really good job of cleaning with a 1 to 10 bleach solution," said Anderson. "That's one of the best ways to really kill it. Your ordinary Lysol and things like that are not going to work as well."

Hand sanitizer may not work either.

"Norovirus is actually one of those things where the hand sanitizers are not necessarily as effective as hand washings," Anderson said.

Like the flu, Anderson said that frequent washing of hands for about 20 seconds at a time can can help stave off illness.

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