Health Alert: Norovirus Spreading through Kanawha Valley

KANAWHA COUNTY, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- That stomach bug that's keeping you home and in bed is more than likely the result of a bigger problem.

Health officials are warning that a virus called norovirus is sweeping through the area.

The Kanawha-Charleston Health Department has been flooded with calls from people who have the virus and want to know more about it.

Norovirus is a sudden onset of stomach pain, nausea, diarrhea and vomiting. You may also have a fever, headache and body aches.

Health officials say the virus is highly contagious and spreads quickly through homes, schools, workplaces and healthcare facilities.

If you have it, here's how to prevent spreading it:

  • First, and most importantly: wash your hands. Health officials say they can't stress that enough. It’s especially important after using the restroom or if you're handling food.

  • Second, stay home to avoid infecting co-workers, classmates and anyone else you come in contact with.

  • Third, be sure to clean and disinfect any contaminated surfaces.

Keep in mind, there's nothing that can fully protect you from catching the virus.

“Anybody can get it. It's out there in the community. Even with your best hygiene, it's still likely that you could get this and pick it up if you're out in the community,” KCHD Director of Epidemiology Janet Briscoe said.

Health officials say norovirus usually lasts from one to three days.

If you become extremely dehydrated or those symptoms keep getting worse, call your physician and he or she can give you the best advice about what to do next.

Norovirus causes about 21 million illnesses, contributes to 70,000 hospitalizations and 800 deaths each year.

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