Alaska Issues Caution for Norwalk-Like Virus

Friday, August 16, 2002
The Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation (ADEC) issued a Food Safety & Sanitation Bulletin providing information about Norwalk-Like Virus (NLV) outbreaks aboard cruise vessels. In May and again in August, outbreaks of gastrointestinal illness caused by Norwalk-Like Virus (NLV) occurred on cruise ships traveling between Vancouver and Seward. Other sporadic cases of Norwalk-like virus are being reported in Alaska. Travelers use a variety of transportation modes to get to Alaska and to destinations throughout the state. This increases the number of persons they contact, and facilitates person-to-person spread of this illness. Norwalk-like viruses (NLVs) are a group of viruses that cause gastroenteritis. The illness is characterized by the acute onset of nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramps and diarrhea. Other symptoms such as headache, fever, chills and muscle ache are also frequently reported. Onset of illness is generally within 12-48 hours of exposure and symptoms can last 12-60 hours. Persons can remain contagious for 48-72 hours after recovery. The NLV is frequently spread through contaminated food and water, but can also be spread person-to-person or through environmental contamination (e.g. handholds, counter tops and shared serving utensils). Consequently, efforts to prevent both contamination of food and water and person-to-person spread are important. The Department of Environmental Conservation, Food Safety and Sanitation Program, in cooperation with the Department of Health and Social Services, Section of Epidemiology, urges you to take the following precautions to protect your staff, clients and business from a Norwalk-Like Virus outbreak.

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