The symptoms are unmistakable, vomiting, stomach cramps and diarrhea for several days making a person miserable, then traveling rapidly through the family.

The common name is the stomach flu, but to the infectious disease specialists at the Missoula City County Health Department, it’s called Norovirus.

Bradley Applegate  at the health department said on Monday that Norovirus is not a disease they’re required to keep track of, due to its common nature.

“Norovirus is transmitted typically from the diarrhea and the vomit,” Applegate said. “You get a little on your hands which can make its way into the mouth. That could be from a surface, from preparing food, or even shaking hands or other touching.”

Applegate says the symptoms are familiar.

"The main symptoms are vomiting and watery diarrhea, and what we’re worried about is dehydration,” he said. “You’re getting all those fluids out of your system and you’ll need to get those fluids back in there, so fluids and electrolytes, maybe mixing Gatorade with 50 percent water.”

The health department does not keep official track of Norovirus reports, but the infection is more prevalent in the fall and winter when people are indoors. Applegate said those infected with the Norovirus need to be especially conscious of cleanliness to keep from spreading the disease.

“To keep others from getting sick ,use that sick time,” he said. “Washing your hands every time you go to the bathroom is the most important thing, after you’ve changed a diaper or before preparing food, and then disinfecting surfaces.”

Applegate said that even after symptoms subside, the patient can still spread the Norovirus.

“Typically, it’s only going to last a few days, although even after symptoms subside, my sources say that you can still be shedding the disease for two to three weeks after symptoms go away,” he said. “By shedding the virus, I mean that there are going to be copies of that virus. You’re going to feel fine, but you’re still going to have that virus potentially in your fecal matter. So, the best thing to do is remain vigilant about keeping everything clean after you use the bathroom.”

The flu shot will not provide any protection from contracting Norovirus.



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