Norovirus outbreak growing in Mesa County

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GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (KKCO) – The Mesa County Health Department warns residents about a potentially serious illness making its way around the area: norovirus.

Eighty percent of outbreaks take place between November and April, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Norovirus is linked to some types of food poisoning and causes more than half of gastroenteritis cases. Many get it from contaminated food, which often includes leafy greens, fresh fruits and shellfish, the CDC says.

The virus is highly contagious and spreads through contact with infected people, contaminated food or water or contaminated things. It can stay on surfaces and infect people for days or weeks, which allows it spreads fast through closed places like daycares, nursing homes and schools. The disease is especially dangerous to older adults and young children.

If you catch it, symptoms include vomiting, diarrhea, fever, cramping, headache and/or body aches, the health department warns. One of the most dangerous symptoms is dehydration, which can lead to hospitalization.

The worst part? Doctors do not have a vaccine to prevent or treat norovirus.

To prevent catching it, the CDC recommends washing your hands, fruits and vegetables and make sure to cook seafood thoroughly. If you’re exposed to a contaminated person or thing, clean and disinfect all infected surfaces and wash clothes that may have been exposed to the virus. And if you’re sick, do not make food for others.

If you do catch it, the health department reminds you to drink lots of liquids to replace lost fluids. Sports drinks and caffeine-free, non-alcoholic beverages are the best to prevent dehydration.