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Cases of Norovirus Rise in Western Mass

NorovirusWEST SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WGGB) — Just as it seems we’ve turned the corner with the flu outbreak, something else is spreading. Now the Norovirus is hitting the area.

At urgent care provider, Doctors Express in West Springfield, office workers have seen their fair share of people all with the same symptoms.

“Nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea,” said Dr. Marie Vitale of Doctors Express. “Very common. Usually more common in the winter months, but very contagious.”

Sometimes called food poisoning, the stomach bug, or even the stomach flu , it’s not actually the flu at all.

It’s the Norovirus, and it’s spreading, especially because it’s so contagious. You can spread it a day before you have symptoms and several days after you’re on the mend.

“Which is why we see wide outbreaks of it,” explained Dr. Vitale. “This is the common virus that plagues many cruise ships. You get people in confined quarters and it just goes right through.”

And since there is no vaccine for this particular virus, you’re best bet is prevention. That’s the silver lining of the Norovirus. It’s relatively easy to contain.

One of the simplest things you can do, proper hand hygiene otherwise known as washing.

“They’ve mentioned that sometimes that actually the disinfectants we use may not be as effective as just plain old soap and water, but it’s a matter of really scrubbing your hands and getting under the fingernails,” said Dr. Vitale.

If you do get sidelined by Norovirus, it doesn’t always necessitate a trip to the doctor – though it can be extremely dangerous to the very young and very old. For everyone else – ride it out and stay hydrated.

“Most people, if they have a mild illness, can be treated at home with oral fluid replacement,” said Dr. Vitale

Norovirus outbreaks can happen throughout the year, but more than 80-percent of cases happen between November and April.

Dr. Vitale says she expects to see more cases in the near future.

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