Officials: Contagious norovirus active in county

Mesa County health officials said Wednesday they’re seeing an increase in gastrointestinal illness in the area and urge residents to take precautions to avoid getting sick.

Norovirus is a highly contagious illness that is often incorrectly referred to as food poisoning or stomach flu.

Health Department spokeswoman Karen Martsolf said norovirus can occur throughout the year but is particularly prevalent between November and April.

“As the winter months set in, people tend to congregate inside in closer proximity in schools, nursing homes and day cares,” she said. “It’s the time of year when viruses tend to spread more quickly and easier than they do other times of the year.”

Symptoms of norovirus infection include diarrhea, vomiting, nausea and stomach cramping. Less-common symptoms include low-grade fever, chills, headache and muscle aches.

Health officials say most people usually feel better within one or two days, although the illness can be serious in young children, the elderly and people with other health conditions, and it can lead to severe dehydration or hospitalization.

Norovirus is spread from person to person through food or water and by touching contaminated surfaces. The Health Department advises people to stay home when they’re sick, avoid people who may be ill and wash their hands frequently.


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