Sickness on the trail is one of a hiker's biggest concerns. I try to follow common sense hygiene practices, although it can be difficult to stay completely germ-free on the trail. A couple of rules I follow to prevent illness are to politely refuse shaking hands with anyone, as well as not sharing food.
I avoided the shelters between GSMNP and Hot Springs and thought I was in the clear when I arrived at the Laughing Heart Hostel, only to find a memo posted from the Forest Service concerning sick hikers north of Hot Springs. The viral cloud seemed to be moving north ahead of me.
On the second night after leaving Hot Springs, a hiker arrived at the campsite where I had stopped for the night, only to place his tent about 20 feet away, shortly before vomiting nearby. This really brought the reality of the sickness to light. Luckily, this was a south-bound hiker, but it made me concerned with what could be waiting for me ahead on the trail.
The next night I camped near Jerry's Cabin shelter with another group of hikers. About 2 miles after leaving camp in the morning I caught up to a hiker who had stayed at the shelter the night before. He was just standing in the middle of the trail, so I asked if he was ok. He replied that he had just thrown up, and to keep going ahead of him. As I quickly passed, I took a look back to see him vomiting twice more on to the side of the trail!
Two days later, I made it to Erwin and have yet to have any stomach issues, although others at the hostel have confirmed they went through a period of sickness. I will continue to elude this ominous virus, but I have a feeling it will catch up to me one day...