SPRINGFIELD, IL (KFVS) - State health officials are claiming that if you have suffered from the flu or had a 'stomach bug' this winter it is more than likely a norovirus.
According to the Illinois Department of Public Health, the norovirus can spread quickly from person to person in crowded places like schools, long-term care facilities and daycare centers.
The Centers for Disease Control estimates that one in 15 people have been infected this past winter.
Health officials say you can decrease their chance of coming in contact with noroviruses by following these preventive steps:
• Frequently wash your hands, especially after toileting or changing diapers and before eating or preparing food.
• Carefully wash fruits and vegetables, and steam oysters before eating them.
• Thoroughly clean and disinfect contaminated surfaces immediately after an episode of diarrhea or vomiting by using a bleach-based household cleaner. If using liquid household bleach prepared daily, one part bleach to nine parts water (1:10 dilution) is recommended.
• Immediately remove and wash clothing or linens that may be contaminated with feces or vomitus (use hot water and soap).
• Flush or discard any vomitus and/or stool in the toilet and make sure that the surrounding area is kept clean.
• Persons who are infected with norovirus should refrain from food preparation while they have symptoms and for three days after they recover from their illness.
According to the CDC, norovirus causes more than 70,000 hospitalizations and 800 deaths in the U.S. each year.