We may not all root for the same team, but we all want the same thing: THE RETURN OF NBA BASKETBALL. It seems like an eternity since the NBA announced the lockout back in July. And with the holidays just around the corner, family parties just won’t be the same without an epic basketball game (i.e. Christmas 2010 Lakers vs. Heat).

image source: solecollector

Let’s all take a timeout from this NBA lockout madness and dribble down memory lane to Winter 2010. Not sure if you remember or noticed, but around that time, some of the players and staff were getting sick with the stomach flu.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently came out with a report explaining the norovirus outbreak of Winter 2010-2011 that affected 24 players and staff members from 13 NBA teams. “Noroviruses cause nearly 21 million gastrointestinal illnesses annually and are the most common cause of gastroenteritis outbreaks in the United States” (CDC).

CDC reported that “the 13 NBA teams with cases played a total of 49 games against one another during the study period. Two of these games were identified as potential team-to-team transmission events.” Fortunately, not all NBA players were infected. Disaster averted.

An analysis of 10 years of NBA injury reports found that gastrointestinal illnesses were the second most common non-game-related injury or illness among players. Basketball players are usually in close contact with one another not just during games, but also in practices, locker rooms, and buses/planes. This creates a unique environment for the norovirus to spread among the players. Viral gastroentertis is contagious and can spread from “person to person, either by direct contact with infectious stool or vomit or by touching surfaces contaminated by infectious material” (CDC).

Symptoms of gastroenteritis include watery diarrhea, vomiting, headache, fever, and abdominal cramps. Diarrhea and vomiting cause dehydration, so it’s important to drink plenty of water and gatorade. Since it’s a viral infection, antibiotics are NOT effective. Currently, there is no norovirus vaccine, but there are two rotovirus vaccines (Rotovirus can also cause gastroenteritis).

Here are some ways from Health.com to prevent norovirus infection:

  • Wash your hands before eating or preparing food. This is especially important if you have just changed any diapers or used the toilet.
  • Wash fruits and vegetables and steam oysters before eating them.
  • Clean and disinfect contaminated surfaces immediately after vomiting or having diarrhea by using a bleach-based household cleaner.
  • Immediately remove and wash soiled clothing or linens after vomiting or having diarrhea. Use hot water and soap.
  • Flush vomit and/or stool in the toilet, and make sure that the surrounding area is kept clean.
  • Do not prepare food if you have symptoms of food poisoning and for 3 days after you recover.

Check out CDC’s complete report, and NPR’s story for more information.

By Alyssa Llamas

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