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  1. #1
    mountain squid's Avatar
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    Lightbulb 2015 Norovirus Awareness

    Last year (2014), the norovirus was not as prevalent on the trail as it had been in previous years. Of course, that doesn't mean that the virus is not still a possibility. With numerous hikers congregating closely together (especially at shelters), the virus can still spread quickly. I just wanted to get the word out again and encourage this year's hikers to take necessary precautions.


    From ATC's website at Appalachiantrail.org:

    Outbreaks of norovirus have occurred at various locations on the A.T. the last two years in a row, with the northbound thru-hiker "bubble" disproportionately affected. This year, scattered reports of stomach bug illness have been received along the A.T. from North Carolina to central Virginia, and recently, in Shenandoah National Park. Due to a relatively low number of reports in any one location, hikers have not been tested and norovirus has not been confirmed.

    Hygiene measures such as hand-washing, avoiding sharing of food, and prompt reporting are critical in helping prevent an outbreak or containing one should it occur. For more information and a downloadable poster, click here. (A new poster should be forthcoming soon.)


    From Center for Disease Control's website:

    Norovirus causes many people to become ill with vomiting and diarrhea each year. You can help protect yourself and others by washing your hands often and following simple tips to stay healthy.

    For more detailed information about norovirus, please visit CDC's website (there is alot of good info there).


    Keep your hands clean and stay well out there!

    See you on the trail,
    mt squid

  2. #2
    Registered User Donde's Avatar
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    NOBOvirus is another good reason to do like the signs say: Appalachian Trail Maine to Georgia

  3. #3

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    Also - PURELL DOES NOT WORK AGAINST NOROVIRUS. YOU MUST WASH YOUR HANDS WITH SOAP AND WATER!!

    http://www.cdc.gov/norovirus/preventing-infection.html

  4. #4

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    Makes me want to drink lots of unfiltered water downhill from shelters!

  5. #5

    Default Prevent Norovirus on the A.T. in 2015 poster

    Thanks for posting this, Squid.

    Here is the poster the ATC working group developed for 2015, in partnership with the CDC, Tennessee Dept. of Public Health, the National Park Service, local trail clubs, and others.

    Handwashing (200 feet from water) as prevention, and reporting promptly (if you do contract norovirus) are key.

    Laurie P.
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    Prevention:
    unanimous -= HANDWASHING....

    MYTH???? or not??? I have read a couple people's blogs say hand sanitizer can help if it is a certain percentage of alcohol.... I don't think this is necessarily true. Anyone to verify???

  7. #7
    Registered User horsefarm's Avatar
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    Anything on the statistics behind this? In what manner is it most often caught? Is managing water well the best way to defend? What are good food practices to help against the spread? I will admit that on solo trips I may go a day or two without a proper washing of my pot. Maybe just boiled water once and a wipedown. What should I do differently (or rather, exactly) to help prevent catching and/or spreading this?

    Thank you for any replies!

  8. #8
    Registered User horsefarm's Avatar
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    Hand sanitizer could help by reducing the surface area on your skin (getting rid of dirt and other contaminants) which would otherwise be something for the virus to cling to? Just a thought.

    In my experience, I would err towards the "overdoing it" side anyway because you'll only get lazier as time passes on a long trail.

  9. #9
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    Ask the idiots who don't carry TP, and then don't have soap to wash their hands. Ask them about the previlance of Noro.
    Noro Marys!!

  10. #10
    mountain squid's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by horsefarm View Post
    Anything on the statistics behind this? In what manner is it most often caught? Is managing water well the best way to defend? What are good food practices to help against the spread? I will admit that on solo trips I may go a day or two without a proper washing of my pot. Maybe just boiled water once and a wipedown. What should I do differently (or rather, exactly) to help prevent catching and/or spreading this?

    Thank you for any replies!
    I don't know what kind of statistics you need?!? The last several years saw numerous hikers get very sick for several days. Lots of throwing up and lots of diarrhea. If one hiker gets sick at a shelter, the virus can spread very quickly to other hikers. If you accidentally step in someone's 'business', later in the day you'll remove your shoes, then prepare dinner, maybe share something with another hiker, touching this and touching that . . . Wash you hands and wash them often.

    Often I've seen hikers sharing trail mix. Everyone dips their hands into the same bag . . . . disgusting . . . . I would suggest to pour into everyone's hand including your own.

    Unsanitary practices when you are by yourself is probably just gross to some. If you get yourself sick, then it is just your own fault. Unsanitary practices on a long distance hike, when numerous hikers are within close proximity, can lead to others getting sick. Personally, I don't like cleaning my pot either, so I do freezer bag cooking and never dirty it. All I do is boil water in my pot.

    Something else to consider, is to do 'fist bumps' instead of shaking hands when you meet someone new.

    Just a few thoughts. The biggest preventer is probably to just keep your hands clean.

    See you on the trail,
    mt squid

    some observations

  11. #11

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    Reposting the link above from the Centers for Disease Control, and am quoting it here. http://www.cdc.gov/norovirus/preventing-infection.html

    Alcohol-based hand sanitizers can be used in addition to hand washing. But, they should not be used as a substitute for washing with soap and water. See “Handwashing: Clean Hands Save Lives.
    Last edited by The Kisco Kid; 03-16-2015 at 16:59.

  12. #12
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    stay out of privys, shelters and hostels

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    Quote Originally Posted by Lone Wolf View Post
    stay out of privys, shelters and hostels
    I can't stay out of hostels. After everyone else is finished taking showers I like to take a lukecool tub bath for about an hour.

  14. #14
    Registered User horsefarm's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mountain squid View Post
    Personally, I don't like cleaning my pot either, so I do freezer bag cooking and never dirty it. All I do is boil water in my pot.
    Unrelated to the thread, but could you share some items that can be purchased along the trail that work well for freezer bag cooking? I get a lot of the instant rice and noodle type entrees that usually want you to simmer the food in a pot. Do you find that these reconstitute well in a freezer bag/cozy? Just add less water than the directions call for? I would love to find a method of cooking where I never have to actually clean my pot, or rarely at least.

    Thank you!

  15. #15

    Default Overview and Revised Poster

    Thanks to Mountain Squid for alerting me to layout issues with the PDF.

    Here is a link to the revised poster Prevent Norovirus on the A.T. 2015.

    ATC's Health and Safety page has this overview for Norovirus:

    This highly contagious virus causes your stomach and/or intestines to become inflamed, which leads to stomach pain, nausea, and diarrhea. Norovirus is transmitted by contact with an infected person, contaminated food or water, or contaminated surfaces. The virus has a 12-48 hour incubation period and lasts 24-60 hours. Infected hikers may be contagious for 3 days to 2 weeks after recovery. Outbreaks occur more often where people share facilities for sleeping, dining, showering, and toileting; the virus can spread rapidly in crowded shelters and hostels; sanitation is key for avoiding and spreading norovirus. Take the following steps to prevent contracting and spreading the illness:

    • Do not eat out of the same food bag, share utensils, or drink from other hikersí water bottles
    • Wash your hands with biodegradable soap (200' from water sources) before eating or preparing food and after toileting.
    • Be aware that alcohol-based hand sanitizer may be ineffective against norovirus.
    • Treat all water. To learn how best to treat your water, click here for information from the CDC.
    • Follow Leave No Trace guidelines for disposing of human waste. For best practices, visit www.appalachiantrail.org/lnt.
    • For more information, visit www.cdc.gov/norovirus.
    • For the latest A.T.-specific information and a downloadable poster, click Prevent Norovirus on the A.T. 2015.
    • Please report date and location of any cases or outbreaks of vomiting and diarrhea on the A.T. or at places used by A.T. hikers (e.g. hostels) to the local health department and ATC at [email protected].

    Note at the CDC link above, there is a link to a poster evaluating water treatment methods that states that the most effective means for reducing pathogens (other than boiling water) is a combination of filtration and disinfection, e.g. filter + chlorine dioxide (Aquamira).

    Laurie P.
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    Wash your hands before eating. Keep dirty hands away from eyes, ears, nose, mouth...etc. Any dog offering gummie bears is probably OK..

  17. #17
    Registered User horsefarm's Avatar
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    Am I too freaked out about this or was I just much less aware of how big a problem it could be? I mean, I already planned to avoid shelters and hostels as much as possible for other reasons, but this stuff makes me afraid to even go near a crowded AT shelter at all.

  18. #18
    Registered User Just Bill's Avatar
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    Heet or moonshine might have a high enough percentage of alcohol.
    But seems easier to me to just use some Dr. Bronner's and not defecate in your trail mix.

    If only Bronner made moonshine...

  19. #19
    Registered User horsefarm's Avatar
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    I will do my best not to crap in my bag of trail mix, but I will not make any promises.

  20. #20

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    Rigorous hand washing is obviously the most effective way to remove the virus from your hands. However, some alcohol sanitizers work better than others against norovirus. I'll be carrying some Germstar Noro sanitizer: http://www.germstar.com/us/germstar-...germstar-noro/ . It's a liquid sanitizer, not a gel, which apparently works better against norovirus than gel solutions. In my experience, it also keeps my hands moist. There are some other sanitizers that work well against norovirus too: http://www.stopthestomachflu.com/Hom...ch-flu-viruses . Unfortunately, most of these need to be ordered online and are not available in stores. As a germaphobe, I will take any extra level of protection I can get. I will also avoid shelters when possible, especially if I hear word of norovirus spreading around.

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