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BFHD has been investigating several gastrointestinal illnesses in our area. At this time, no common source of food or water contamination has been identified. We are waiting on lab tests to identify the cause, but the symptoms and timing resemble norovirus infections.

Norovirus is a group of viruses that can infect people and cause gastroenteritis (inflammation of the stomach and intestines). Infections can cause diarrhea, vomiting, nausea, and stomach cramping. The illness is sometimes referred to as “stomach flu,” but it is not related to the flu, which is a respiratory illness caused by the influenza virus.

Norovirus travels the fecal-oral route. It is highly contagious and usually spreads person-to-person. It can also spread through contaminated food or water or when people handle objects that infected people touch.

Norovirus is found in the vomit and feces (diarrhea) of infected people from the day they begin to feel ill and for two weeks or more after they feel better. People are likely most contagious during the first three days of illness.

People should not prepare food for others while symptomatic and for three days after symptoms resolve. Children and infants should stay home from school and daycare if they are vomiting or have diarrhea.

Symptoms of norovirus usually go away within 48 hours without medical care.  However, severe dehydration can be life-threatening and require medical assistance.

These illnesses are another reminder that proper handwashing can help keep you healthy! Remember to wash your hands with soap and water often throughout the day, especially after the bathroom and before you eat.