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Norovirus is a Big No-No

February 6, 2013
Dr. Scott Breidbart, Chief Medical Officer, Empire BlueCross BlueShield

By now you may have heard that there is a new virus around causing nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.  It is called the Norovirus Sydney strain.  It is, as you might imagine, seriously unpleasant, and for otherwise ill people, it can be dangerous.

The CDC (Centers for Disease Control) estimates that there will be more than 20 million Norovirus cases in the US this year.  There is no vaccine to prevent it.  There is no drug to cure it.  So what can you do?

Don’t get the virus. If it’s on your hands, unless you wash it off, you’ll get it.  You’ll eventually touch something you eat, or you’ll touch your nose, mouth, or eyes, and you’ll come down with the virus.  So it is most important not to get the virus on your hands or in your mouth.  This means:

1.    Wash your hands.  Use soap and water.  Don’t skimp.  Soap and water are pretty cheap.  I’ve never heard anyone
say, “Well, I came down with Norovirus, but at least I saved $.08 on my water bill!”

2.      Teach your children to wash their hands.

3.      Avoid people who are sick.  Don’t shake their hands.  Don’t share food or utensils with them. Even after they recover, they are contagious for three days.

4.      If you feel sick, don’t prepare food for others.

5.      Don’t let sick people in an area where you are preparing food.

6.      Wash all fruits and vegetables well, especially leafy greens such as lettuce.

7.      Cook all shellfish thoroughly, especially oysters.

8.      No double-dipping at Superbowl parties…

Of course, if you have any questions about this virus, or think you have it, contact your doctor or health care provider.  Better yet?  Stay well.

Dr. Breidbart is Chief Medical Officer for Empire BlueCross BlueShield, New York’s largest health insurer; insuring nearly 6 million New Yorkers.

Scott Breidbart, M.D., Chief Medical Officer, Empire BlueCross BlueShield
Scott Breidbart, M.D. is Chief Medical Officer of Empire BlueCross Blue Shield. In this role, Dr. Breidbart plays a key role as liaison between Empire, the company’s more than 5 million members, their physicians and other health care providers across the state. Dr. Breidbart joined Empire in December 2008 and brings more than 15 years of managed care experience and more than 10 years as a medical practitioner in New York. Most recently he served as vice president, Quality Improvement and Medical Policy at Health Net, where he built and managed clinical account management teams on both coasts and built and directed the medical profiling team. Dr. Breidbart received his undergraduate degree from Yale University and earned his medical degree from Columbia University. He performed his residency in pediatrics at Babies and Children’s Hospital of New York (Columbia Presbyterian), his chief residency at Westchester Medical Center in New York and his fellowship in Pediatric Endocrinology at Montefiore Medical Center also in New York. Additionally, he practiced pediatric endocrinology for 10 years as Assistant Professor of Pediatrics, New York Medical College.
Dr. Breidbart also holds an MBA from Pace University Lubin School of Business, and is on the Board of Directors of the New York Diabetes Coalition.


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