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Watch out for the Norovirus

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Watch out for the Norovirus

CREATED Apr 9, 2012

If you're not good at washing your hands often, now would be the time.

Reporter: Tammy Vo

PIMA COUNTY, Ariz. (KGUN9-TV) - There's been a spike in a nasty virus going around Pima County and it's called Norovirus. Normally, the county logs one case per month but in recent weeks they've seen clusters of seven cases, mostly in assisted care centers.

"It's one of the most common causes of gastrointestinal illness in the United States. People can get from eating contaminated food or water, or from direct contact. In some cases people can become infected by breathing in particles that are put in the air when someone throws up" said Michael Acoba,  Program Director for the Pima County Department of Epidemiology.

Here are the symptoms: nausea,  vomiting, diarrhea and stomach cramps lasting one to two days. Your ability to spread the virus can last up to seven days. For the elderly and kids, it can be fatal.

At St. Luke's Home in Tucson, Executive Director Larry Rush is being extra careful especially since some of his residents and volunteers haven't been feeling well. Staff sanitizes all door knobs and surfaces, and recently quarantined one resident who showed some concerning symptoms.

"If I were to get a large outbreak it would not only tax my staff, but could lead to a fatality because we are dealing with the elderly and they have multiple diagnoses" said Rush.

Bottom line: wash your hands often, use anti-bacterial gel and if you feel sick, don't go to work especially if you prepare food for others. How can you tell the difference between Norovirus and the flu? Norovirus symptoms include more stomach and intestinal problems, but the only way to know for sure is to see your doctor.