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December 13, 2012
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Beware of the stomach 'bug'

Mesa County Health Department officials are reporting an increase in norovirus outbreaks in the community.

Sometimes referred to as the stomach flu or food poisoning, norovirus outbreaks occur throughout the year. However, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention more than 80% of the outbreaks occur from November to April. Norovirus is the leading cause of foodborne-disease outbreaks in the U.S.

Noroviruses spread when people have contact with infected people, consume contaminated food or water, or touch contaminated objects. Outbreaks occur often and can happen to people of all ages in a variety of settings.

Noroviruses are responsible for more than half of all reported outbreaks of gastroenteritis. Symptoms include: vomiting, diarrhea, and stomach cramping caused by inflammation of the stomach and intestines. Other symptoms can include: fever, headache and/or body aches. Norovirus illness can be serious, especially for young children and older adults. Some symptoms of norovirus can lead to dehydration, which can lead to serious problems. Severe dehydration may require hospitalization for treatment with fluids given through intravenous (IV) fluids.

Norovirus can spread quickly in closed spaces such as daycare centers and schools. Children who become dehydrated as a result of the illness may cry with few or no tears and be unusually sleepy or fussy. If you think you or someone you are caring for is severely dehydrated, call a doctor.

There is no specific medicine to treat people with norovirus illness.

Health officials recommend drinking plenty of liquids to replace lost fluids. Sports drinks and other drinks without caffeine or alcohol can help with mild dehydration. Health officials also recommend washing hands regularly and staying home when you are sick.

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The Post Independent Updated Dec 13, 2012 04:17PM Published Dec 13, 2012 04:15PM Copyright 2012 The Post Independent. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.