Soldiers restricted from coming home after “highly contagious virus” outbreak at Middle East base

Medical and security forces personnel discuss procedures to secure several military personnel for quarantine, Dec. 7, 2017, Travis Air Force Base, Calif. A C-5 Super Galaxy coming from an undisclosed location landed here at Travis with 17 military members’ potentially infected with the Avian Influenza Virus (H7N9) in a simulated scenario during an Inspector General exercise. The exercise evaluated Travis’s response to a viral outbreak. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Heide Couch)

Seventy-seven individuals are currently showing symptoms of the highly contagious norovirus at Camp Buehring and Camp Arifjan in Kuwait.

US Army Central Deputy Chief of Public Affairs Kavanaugh Breazeale told reporters that of the 77 showing symptoms, only 7 are confirmed cases of the virus, which is incredibly painful and can spread among a population quite quickly.

The Army isn’t sure how -or where- the outbreak started, but reports it is unlikely that it involved food contamination.

“We’re working diligently to identify those who are infected with the virus to ensure that it doesn’t spread more,” Breazeale said. “[Norovirus] causes basically very, very harsh symptoms like food poisoning.”

According to the CDC, however, from 2009-2012, 48% of foodborne illnesses were caused by norovirus. In fact, only 18 viral particles -roughly enough to fit on the head of a pin- are needed to infect over 1,000 people.

One soldier was pulled from a homebound flight out of Kuwait last Friday due to the virus, in an effort to limit global spread.

“We just don’t want it to spread to their families. We don’t want them to go home with it,” Breazeale said.

Norovirus can continue to be transmitted long after symptoms subside. Symptoms include diarrhea, vomiting, nausea, and stomach pain. The symptoms can lead to dehydration, especially in vulnerable members of the population, such as young children and older adults.

According to the Army Times, the personnel currently affected are being quarantined, with troops scheduled to head out forced to spend a little more time in Kuwait.

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