News Release

Health Department of Northwest Michigan
serving Antrim, Charlevoix, Emmet, and Otsego Counties
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Norovirus causing illness in the area
Health Department makes recommendations to stop spread

(December 1, 2010) Some people call it “stomach flu”, but the 24-hour illness causing fever and vomiting that's currently circulating throughout northern Michigan is not actually caused by flu virus.

"Norovirus, not an influenza virus, is the most likely culprit," said Joshua Meyerson, MD, Medical Director for the Health Department of Northwest Michigan. "It's very common for Norovirus to circulate this time of year."

The symptoms of Norovirus usually include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and stomach cramping. Sometimes people have a low-grade fever, chills, headache, muscle aches, and a general sense of tiredness. The illness is usually brief, with symptoms lasting only one or two days.

Norovirus is very contagious and spread easily from person to person. People can become infected in several ways, including eating food or drinking liquids that are contaminated by infected food handlers, touching contaminated surfaces or objects and then touching their mouths, or having direct contact with another person who is infected and then touching their mouths. Persons working in day-care centers or nursing homes should pay special attention to children or residents who have Norovirus illness because the virus can spread quickly.

"Good hand washing is your best defense against all kinds of communicable diseases, including viruses," Meyerson said.

Since the virus is passed in vomit and stool, children should not go to daycare or school while they have diarrhea or vomiting. Once illness ends, children can return to daycare, but hand washing must be strictly monitored. Persons who work in nursing homes, take care of patients, or handle food should stay out of work for at least three days after their symptoms end.

You can decrease your chance of coming into contact with Noroviruses by:

The Health Department of Northwest Michigan is mandated by the Michigan Public Health Code to promote wellness, prevent disease, provide quality healthcare, address health problems of vulnerable populations, and protect the environment for the residents and visitors of Antrim, Charlevoix, Emmet, and Otsego counties. For additional information, visit