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PORTLAND, OR -- Almost everyone washes their vegetables, but almost no one washes their reusable grocery bags and that could make you sick.

For the first time, researchers at Oregon Health and Sciences University have linked the norovirus, which causes stomach flu symptoms, to inanimate objects.

Six Oregon girls attending a soccer tournament in Washington state in 2011 came down with symptoms of acute stomach flu. They had all handled a plastic covered grocery bag that had been in the bathroom where a seventh girl had been vomiting. When scientists tested the bag two weeks later, the norovirus was still there and viable.

When cleaning an area where someone has become ill, (it's important to) not just think about cleaning the toilet, but all the surfaces that could possibly transport to another area. So the toothbrush, the hairbrush, anything that's stored in the bathroom should be cleaned, said Kimberly Repp, one of the researchers.

Repp said people should wash their bags often with bleach, like they wash their dishtowels. If it's a plastic covered bag, soak it in a solution of water and bleach and line dry. At the very least, use a disinfectant wipe.

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