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New norovirus strain spreading in US

PHOENIX -- The Centers for Disease Control said a new strain of the norovirus is spreading across the country.

The new strain, originating from Australia, is called GII.4 Sydney. There have been 140 confirmed cases in the United States, but the Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the strain is the leading cause of norovirus outbreaks in the U.S.

The norovirus has flulike symptoms.

"Vomiting, diarrhea, general stomach upset," said Shoana Anderson, chief of the Arizona Office of Infectious Disease Services.

Anderson said no cases have shown up in the state yet.

"We do look for norovirus, and we test for it at the state lab, but in order to figure the exact type, it has to go to a special testing facility in California," Anderson said.

It takes a couple of months to get the test results.

This strain of the virus is highly contagious, and a flu shot is no protection. The normal methods of keeping a home clean to stop it from spreading may also be ineffective.

"Usually, people are going to want to do a really good job of cleaning with a 1 to 10 bleach solution," said Anderson. "That's one of the best ways to really kill it. Your ordinary Lysol and things like that are not going to work as well."

Hand sanitizer may not work either.

"Norovirus is actually one of those things where the hand sanitizers are not necessarily as effective as hand washings," Anderson said.

Like the flu, Anderson said that frequent washing of hands for about 20 seconds at a time can can help stave off illness.

About the Author

Years with the company: I started on January 2, 2006.

Education: I was born in San Antonio, Texas, but we moved to Phoenix when I was one-year-old in 1957. I grew up here and graduated from Alhambra High School and attended Phoenix College.

Family: I am married to my wife Rene', who is a librarian in the Washington school district. During free time, I may be found playing basketball in the driveway with my son, Devin. He's also keeping me busy with school, Little League, and playing in chess tournaments around the Valley.

Favorite food: Lots of favorite food, but our favorite restaurant is Fajitas.

Favorite spot in Arizona: The Little America Hotel in Flagstaff.

Favorite news memory: We have to go back to October 15, 1979. I was a country music air personality at KROP Radio in Brawley, California, when we had a 6.7 earthquake. Thankfully, there were no deaths and only minor injuries, but the entire community was pretty freaked out and listening to the station on their transistor radios. I would not want to go through an earthquake again, but it sure was a great night to work in radio and see how it can make a difference in people's lives.

First job: Working as a stringer for 'The Arizona Republic' at high school football games. My first real job was flipping burgers at the old Sandy's Hamburgers at 51st Avenue and Indian School Road. My first radio job was as announcer at KALJ radio in Yuma in 1977.

First concert: Doug Oldham gospel concert in the 1970s at the old East High School in Phoenix.

Favorite sports team: Phoenix Roadrunners minor league hockey. My dad took me to a game when I was in grade school, and I was hooked. I wanted to be a radio hockey play-by-play man. I used to take my cassette recorder and sit up in the rafters of the Coliseum and do play-by-play. It was great later in life to also take my son to Roadrunners games. Too bad the team just folded, I'll miss them. (Going to the Coyotes is fun, but they're not "my" team.)

Outside interests: My family and I are active in our church - Northern Hills Community Church in Phoenix. We enjoy going to movies, sporting events, and like to vacation at the Beach Cottages in the Pacific Beach area of San Diego. And I love to play catch, basketball, football with my son.


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