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Norovirus cases on the rise in Dane County

MADISON (WKOW) — Local hospitals say they’ve seen an uptick in the number of possible norovirus cases.

Doctors at SSM Health are seeing more cases of the contagious stomach bug. And it’s not just in Madison, but throughout the five county area they serve.

According to Dr. Michael Foley, the hospital is seeing about five to ten cases a day right now. The virus is more prevalent in the late fall, winter and early spring. During the summer they generally don’t see any cases.

Holiday parties, where people are in close proximity, can also help the bug spread quickly.

Symptoms generally include diarrhea, vomiting, nausea and stomach pains.

“The common stomach flu will act very similar. It’s just a different bug, different virus. But you might get more aches and pains in your muscle with flu virus. But norovirus is mainly a gut infection that you pick up from the environment,” Foley said.

Norovirus can be transferred from person to person by someone with contaminated hands touching food. That’s why Foley says simply washing your hands regularly will help prevent the spread of the bug.

“If you washed your hands and then processed food, it’s unlikely for you to get it from some food processing. But that is a common way it goes from individual to individual. No one in your household, for example, has norovirus now. But you pick it up from the environment going out. And it has to be a virus that goes in your mouth. That’s how it starts. So it doesn’t go through your skin. It’s not breathed in. It goes through your mouth,” he said.

There is no cure for norovirus. So if you get infected with the virus, you’ll unfortunately have to wait it out while it runs its course. According to Foley, that’s usually about five to seven days.

David Johnson

Reporter, WKOW

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