Norovirus Marches North on Appalachian Trail

Published Jun 6, 2013


Germs can be cute. Who knew?

That nasty virus that whacked hikers two months ago near Hot Springs, North Carolina, is spreading northward.

We spoke with Appalachian Trail Conservancy's Director of Conservation Operations Bob Proudman today. He confirmed that there were three cases of norovirus reported in Shenandoah National Park in Virginia two weeks ago.

The norovirus is the kind of bug you do not want to get. After a 12- to 48-hour incubation period, there's a period of 24-60 hours of vomiting, diarrhea and dehydration.

Those who have had the illness can pass it to others for two entire weeks.

It's bad enough to be sick in your own cozy bed. On the Trail, it's really a drag.

One of this year's Warrior Hikers, Steve Clendenning, got the bug in late April, and had to be hospitalized after suffering dehydration and other serious issues. Thankfully, Steve is back on the trail.

The virus can contaminate food, shelters, clothing and other objects. Mr. Proudman said hand sanitizers do not kill this particular virus, although we might think otherwise. What works best is thorough hand washing with soap and hot water or a solution of diluted bleach and water.

Wave hello to hikers, but don't shake hands. Bury your own personal waste far off the trail and a bit deeper than you might think necessary, please. Don't share cups, forks or ice cream cones. (Just checking to see if you're paying attention.)

Before you kiss that cute stranger, ask yourself if it's worth risking a week of vomiting and projectile ... oh, you know.

Norovirus is nothing to sneeze at; please be careful.

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Tags: Appalachian Trail Conservancy and Appalachian Trail

About the Author Robert Sutherland:
Robert Sutherland is a travel writer enjoying life. Robert has two adult daughters and six grandchildren.
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