Seasonal stomach bug arrives in Virginia


The Virginia Department of Heath said on Thursday that cases of the norovirus, or stomach flu, have been confirmed in the state.

The virus is a highly contagious stomach virus. Symptoms include vomiting, diarrhea and abdominal cramps. The infection typically subsides without medical attention, but a person who is severely dehydrated should visit a doctor.

While the virus is present in the state year round, the number of cases increase during the winter season.

"By tracking current disease surveillance data and applying that to established historical data trends, our experts are able to define baselines and thresholds for disease activity and make evidence-based predictions of when certain seasonal illnesses, like norovirus, will increase," State Health Commissioner Cynthia Romero said. "Based on current data analysis, we expect to see an increase in norovirus illness and outbreaks in Virginia over the next few weeks."

VDH analyzes the data from emergency department and urgent care centers to track the virus through the year.

The agency reported 184 cases of norovirus last year. The virus can have a great impact on day care centers, prisons/jails, schools and nursing homes.

"It is the time of year when families and friends are coming together to celebrate the holidays," Romero said. "Norovirus is a sure way to dampen the holiday spirit, so being mindful of simple things like washing your hands or staying home if you are sick is especially important now."