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New Strain of Norovirus linked to Recent Outbreaks

Update Date: Dec 26, 2015 11:02 AM EST

A new strain of norovirus has been linked to several outbreaks across the United States.

According to the Minnesota Department of Health, a new strain called GII.17 Kawasaki has arrived to the U.S. This strain caused a lot of illness in Asia last winter.

"Every few years, a new strain of norovirus emerges and causes many illnesses. We don't know yet if this new strain will lead to an increase in the number of outbreaks reported, but it could," Amy Saupe at the MDH said reported by CBS News. "If we're meticulous about washing our hands and handling food properly, we may be able to limit the impact."

Norovirus outbreaks have been reported in several states and cities, including California and Boston. In California, about 50 people from Chapman University had symptoms that were tied to a norovirus infection.

"One of the most important things you can do to avoid norovirus and other illnesses this holiday season is to wash your hands frequently with soap and running water for at least 20 seconds," warned Karen Smith, California Department of Public Health director and state public health officer, reported by the Los Angeles Times. "This is especially important after using the bathroom, changing diapers, and before preparing or eating food."

In Boston, 153 college students fell ill from norovirus. 141 of the students had eaten at a Chipotle restaurant at the Cleveland Circle location. In the city of Seattle, an outbreak was linked to 200 illnesses from norovirus.

Health officials throughout the nation are reminding people to wash their fresh produce before eating them. People should also remember to wash their hands regularly and to keep their kitchen surfaces clean.

Norovirus affects about 20 million people within the U.S. every year with about 500-600 deaths. Symptoms of an infection include nausea, vomiting, stomach pain, and diarrhea.

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