Norovirus “stomach flu” on the rise in St. Louis area

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ST. LOUIS, MO (KTVI) - Dr. Mark Levine knows the holidays can be a harbinger of what's to come in emergency rooms around the region.

“It looks like the norovirus is spreading,” says Dr. Mark Levine, a physician in the emergency department of Barnes-Jewish Hospital.  “We've been relatively lucky so far here and have not seen many cases, but there are a few that have started to crop up.”

Yes, the norovirus is nothing to sneeze at, especially since it's not your nose that's affected the most.

“The flu that we've been seeing a lot is usually in the upper respiratory track, causing a cough, fever,” explains Levine.  “The norovirus, although we call it the stomach flu, it's not same bug.  But it is a virus that causes vomiting and diarrhea.”

The norovirus is easily spread in close quarters like cruise ships, workplaces, schools and nursing homes.

Also known as the stomachflu, it's a hard one to stomach for two or three days if you get it.

“The symptoms are usually cramping, belly pain,” says Levine.  “Sometimes you can have a fever, but most people present with vomiting and diarrhea and a lot of it.”

Dr. Levine recommends washing your hands frequently after using the restroom and before you eat, and drink lots of fluids.

“This time of year is notorious for spreading all sorts of illnesses because everybody is together, one on top of each other, hugging and kissing for the holidays and New Year and sharing all sorts of foodand that's how things get spread,” says Levine.

No one wants the spreading of holiday cheer leading to an under the weather new year.

Find out more about norovirus: http://www.cdc.gov/norovirus/

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