Two Confirmed Cases of Norovirus in Ward County | VideoAmy Fox | 12/13/2012
"Norovirus is a highly contagious virus that we typically see in the winter months in North Dakota," said Linda Larson, North Dakota State Health Department.
Norovirus, also called the stomach flu, is often confused with influenza. The main difference between the two is influenza causes respiratory problems, like coughing and sneezing, while norovirus can cause diarrhea, vomiting and nausea.
"We`ll see this circulate through groups of people, for example in nursing homes and schools. And, with the high infectivity rate, it takes a very small amount to affect a large number of people,Ē Larson explained.
The stomach flu is very contagious and can be spread quickly by touching surfaces, objects, and foods contaminated by carriers of the virus.
"Twelve to 24 hours after they have been exposed to the virus, they`ll develop those types of symptoms."
While it`s always a good idea to practice good hand-washing during the winter months, it`s also important to disinfect the surface.
"Clean environmental surfaces with an appropriate disinfectant, maybe clean them more often."
But, if you do end up with the bug, it typically doesn`t last long.
"The illness itself can last one to two days, but can be prolonged depending on the immune system of the person infected."
While there is no medication for norovirus and no vaccine to prevent infection, we can only hope our immune systems will stay strong. If you have the virus, First District Health Unit recommends staying home from work or school for 24 hours.