Norovirus outbreaks on the rise locally

Norovirus / Brett Dickie

The Norovirus is causing hundreds of Michigan residents to become ill this holiday season.

NBC25 found out what it is, where it comes from and how not to get it.

All of a sudden it hits you fast and hard.

Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, sometimes people have chills or fever with it, too, said Jane Heringhausen, the Communicable Disease Nurse for the Saginaw County Department of Public Health.

It sounds like the stomach flu, but it TMs actually the Norovirus, discovered in 1968, the aggressive bug rears its ugly head this time of year.

It can be spread through airborne particles, through contact with the infected objects, or from the person itself, said Heringhausen.

Since Dec. 8, there have been more than 100 confirmed outbreaks in Michigan, and at least two in Saginaw County.

We did have one in a community setting, an elderly care facility, and one was an actual business, said Bryant Wilk, the Director of Environmental Health for the Saginaw County Health Department.

Health officials say holiday gatherings spread the virus fast. In fact, Jessica Harthorn TMs family came down with Norovirus in a matter of hours after Thanksgiving.

Food can transfer the virus from a contaminated source, or a person touches the food, then you eat the food, said Wilk.

But there are ways to prevent the virus.

The biggest one is washing your hands, I can't say it enough, said Heringhausen.

Also, disinfect surfaces with a chlorine bleach and water solution.

And if you do get it, drink plenty of water.

If you TMre elderly and possibly immune deficient, it can get very serious; you could become very dehydrated and cause you to be hospitalized, said Wilk.

Health officials say symptoms last up to three days.

Plus, you can't build immunity against the Norovirus, which means you can get it again.

Since Dec. 8, there have been more than 2,300 confirmed cases of Norovirus in Michigan.