State Department of Health investigates viral outbreak in Blackford Co.

Dozens report similar symptoms in Central Indiana.

Hartford City, Ind.

The State Department of Health is investigating a viral outbreak in Blackford County. Several people reported symptoms associated with the stomach flu or food poisoning.

"It was brutal, would be the best word for it," said Bill Bosworth, who came down with the sudden sickness Saturday night.

"My wife woke up the next morning and it was pretty intense right away for her too," Bosworth said.

His wife reported their cases to the Blackford County Health Department which is now working with state epidemiologists to pinpoint a cause. State Epidemiologist Pam Pontones said the symptoms are consistent with Viral Gastroenteritis. The most common type of that virus is called the Norovirus.

"Gastroenteritis is characterized by nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. It usually lasts for 24 to 96 hours and will go away on it's own. Influenza is a respiratory disease with coughing, sneezing, sore throat," Pontones said.

Noroviruses are often passed through oral contact but can also spread through contaminated food. Bosworth said he knows of others who had the same symptoms and ate at the same local sandwich restaurant.

"If it's just the flu, it's just the flu, but it seems like too much to be a coincidence. I'd like to see it pursued a little harder," he said.

The State Department of Health is investigating several possible causes of the outbreak.

"Unfortunately there is no vaccine to prevent against Norovirus so proper hygiene and prevention measures are important. Do not go to school or work if you're sick and do not prepare food for others if you're sick," Pontones said.

Pontones encourages people to get vaccinated against Influenza. Noroviruses and Influenza are prevalent during the winter months.

More information on the Norovirus is available online.





Look for this special section in your
Baltimore Sun newspaper on Dec. 29, 2013.
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