GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – The Norovirus, commonly misdiagnosed as the stomach-flu, is hitting parts of West Michigan hard right now.
Health professionals at the Muskegon County and Kent County health departments say the virus is highly contagious and is passed from person to person rather easily.
The symptoms, while severe at times, typically don’t last long.
Lisa LaPlante with the Kent County Health Department said, “Abdominal cramps, vomiting, diarrhea, these are some of the typical symptoms that you will see. The onset will be quick and the symptoms will alleviate in 48 hours.”
Unfortunately, the number of reported cases in West Michigan along with the rest of the state are on the rise.
“We’ve actually noticed a really big increase in the last week,” said LaPlante.
The illness can spread quickly from person to person or even by contaminated food. This makes schools, college dorms or nursing homes vulnerable.
Health professionals say you can leave the disinfecting wipes and sprays alone. The only way to stop the spread for certain is to use bleach mixed with water.
According to LaPlante the best thing you can do for your co-workers is stay home if you are sick.
In fact, if you work in the food industry, you have to.
LaPlante said, “The Michigan food code says that you have to be free of diarrhea or vomiting for at least 24 hours before returning to work.”
West Michigan saw a similar spike in people getting sick from the Norovirus in January of last year.
“You can never really predict when it’s going to hit or where but you want to be prepared for it,” LaPlante said.
Health professionals say dehydration is a real concern if you are sick with the virus. They recommend drinking plenty of water and even energy drinks with no caffeine.