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Norovirus a main cause of diarrhea surges in Taipei's ERs: CDC

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Cases of diarrhea in emergency rooms across Taipei over the past four weeks have doubled compared to the same period last year mainly due to a widespread outbreak of the Norovirus, Centers for Disease Control (CDC) said yesterday.

According to the Taipei City Government Department of Health (DOH), 2,100 people went to emergency rooms last week due to diarrhea. The DOH analyzed the cases and said this is likely due to the New Year's four-day vacation during which people tend to eat hotpot in cold weather and if the food is unclean or not properly cooked, then it is very easy to get infected by the virus. DOH said every November to March is the peak season for viruses that cause diarrhea, like the Norovirus.

Chu Yu-ju (朱玉如), chief of the Disease Control and Prevention Division (DCPD) under Taipei city's Department of Health, stated that Norovirus is highly contagious and that if a family member gets infected, the whole family may in turn get the virus. This is very likely the reason behind the fact that diarrhea cases were double the city's usual level in the same period last year, said Chu.

Chu said if a patient vomits or defecates too often then the patient should go to the hospital for treatment as soon as possible. Chu said that parents should pay close attention to newborns, as serious diarrhea may lead to dehydration.

Chu said, furthermore, that the virus can last in excrement for more than two weeks even if the patient seems fully recovered. If a person touches a virus-contaminated item or stays too close to a patient, he or she may become infected, stated Chu. The best way to kill the virus is to use a 1:10 dilution of bleacher and wipe it on contaminated items, Chu suggested.

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