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Norovirus Going Around In South Dakota

March 31, 2010, 5:09 PM by Courtney Zieller

Norovirus Going Around In South Dakota
SIOUX FALLS, SD - A virus that became a household word after making hundreds of cruise ship passengers sick is making the rounds again in South Dakota.

You may recognize the Norovirus by another name, Norwalk Virus. Whatever you call it, it is a germ that is causes about 90 percent of all cases of stomach flu around the world. It's also responsible for about half the cases of food borne cases of stomach flu in the U.S.

If you don't recognize this bug by its microscopic photo, don't worry. You're not alone. But because this bug is so easily passed from one person to another, chances are you will recognize the symptoms it can cause.

"Nausea, vomiting or diarrhea. There maybe occasional fever and feel achy. In the case of the Norovirus, it can be a very sudden onset," Sanford infectious disease Dr. Wendell Hoffman said.

Once inside your body, it can take less than 12 hours to make you violently ill. Now you know why health officials try to do all they can to prevent Norovirus' spread.

"It is a nasty little virus that's very common. Self-limited in the sense that it makes people pretty sick but only for a short period of time. But the other thing is that people can still be contagious up to 72 hours," Hoffman said.

According to the South Dakota Department of Health, clusters of Norovirus have been discovered in Minnehaha, Lincoln, Grant, Hutchinson, Roberts and Walworth counties. A suspect case is awaiting confirmation in Douglas County. Health officials say the clusters involve a wide variety of age groups and settings, including nursing homes and church dinners.

"To control an outbreak, it would include strict adherent to hand hygiene. Having people stay home when they're ill. That's very important and being conscious of common activity that might promote spread," Hoffman said.

The good news is the symptoms of Norovirus are usually self-limiting and usually last less than three days.

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