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02 March 2012 08:47
People in Virginia have been urged to wash their hands regularly after several cases of acute gastroenteritis were reported
A larger than usual outbreak of a highly contagious stomach bug has been reported in the US state of Virginia.
Health officials said the number of acute gastroenteritis cases was 20% higher than at the same time last year and have urged residents and visitors to wash their hands regularly and take other simple measures to avoid being infected.
Acute gastroenteritis is an inflammation of the stomach and intestines which can lead to vomiting, diarrhoea, fever, stomach ache, headache and fatigue.
It is usually caused by norovirus and can spread easily through close contact with another person or contaminated food or water. People who carry the virus can be contagious for up to two weeks after recovery, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said.
The highest numbers of acute gastroenteritis cases are usually reported in January and February.
People already suffering from health problems should look into
pre-existing medical travel insurance before heading to Virginia.
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