Health officials with the Two Rivers Public Health Department are informing residents about norovirus, or what is commonly known as the stomach bug.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, each year norovirus leads to about 21 million cases of stomach illness in the U.S.
According to the health department, norovirus is highly contagious and can lead to stomach cramps, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.
Symptoms generally start within 24-48 hours after exposure to the virus and can last up to three days. Those afflicted with the virus remain contagious even after they feel better, with health officials saying it could last even three days after recovery.
Illnesses from norovirus can happen at any time, but are most prevalent during the winter. It is spread by close person to person contact as well as contaminated food, drinks, and other objects and surfaces.
There is no vaccine or medication for norovirus, but health officials do advise drinking plenty of fluids and rest to avoid dehydration. If symptoms are severe or signs of hydration develop, patients should contact their doctor right away.
The health department has a few tips to help prevent the spread of norovirus.
First, wash your hands with soap and water.
Clean and disinfect contaminated surfaces using a bleach-based cleanser as the virus can survive other disinfectants and can stay on unclean surfaces for days or weeks.
Additionally, laundry that may be contaminated should be washed by itself and dried on the hottest setting.
More information about norovirus can be found at www.cdc.gov/norovirus.