The Norovirus Is Spreading Across the Country—and the Number of Cases Are Higher Than Last Year, CDC Reports

The contagious illness—also known as the stomach flu—causes severe vomiting and diarrhea and is spread by coming into contact with an infected person.

If you recently had the stomach bug, you're not alone. Norovirus, a highly contagious intestinal infection, is currently spreading across the United States. According to recent data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, reported outbreaks of the stomach illness are currently outpacing last year's numbers.

So, far there have been 225 reported norovirus outbreaks from August to January. During the same period in 2022, there were only 172 reported cases. Despite the current rise of norovirus cases, the CDC reports that the number of outbreaks so far this year is within the range reported during the same period from 2012 to 2020.

Most norovirus outbreaks in the U.S. happen from November to April, but you can contract the illness at any time of year. According to the CDC, each year the virus causes 19 to 21 million cases of vomiting and diarrhea illnesses, 109,000 hospitalizations, and 900 deaths in the U.S.

woman with stomach pain
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The infection causes inflammation of the stomach or intestines. Symptoms of norovirus typically include vomiting, diarrhea, nausea, stomach pain, fever, aches, and chills. A person usually develops symptoms 12 to 48 hours after being exposed to norovirus and most people typically recover within one to three days.

Most norovirus outbreaks happen when someone with the illness spreads it to others through direct contact, like by sharing food and beverages. Outbreaks are most commonly reported in healthcare facilities, including long-term care facilities and hospitals. Another common location of norovirus outbreaks in schools and childcare centers. In fact, the CDC reports that norovirus outbreaks have even led to campus closures at schools and universities.

If you believe you have contracted norovirus, the CDC encourages you to drink a lot of liquids to replace any fluid lost. Replenishing your fluids will help prevent dehydration, which can lead to hospitalization if not treated properly.

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