Norovirus has made its way to Montgomery County this year, though officials say the cases they’re seeing are fairly typical for this time in the season.
The contagious bug is marked by inflammation in the stomach or intestines that can lead stomach pain, nausea, diarrhea and vomiting, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Each year, it causes about 21 million illnesses and contributes to about 70,000 hospitalizations and 800 deaths, the CDC reports.
Norovirus has been in the news this season after a new strain of the bug was detected in Australia. The strain is now the leading cause of outbreaks in the US, according to the CDC, though it’s too early to tell whether it will cause more illnesses than in past years.
The disease has been associated with nursing homes and cruise ships, but it can also spread quickly among the general population, The Washington Post reported.
Though the bug isn’t one that’s tracked by health officials, Montgomery County Health and Human Services Department spokeswoman Mary Anderson said the department has heard anecdotal reports of norovirus in hospital emergency rooms and in schools, though there don’t seem to be more cases than what’s typical for January.
“We see Norovirus every winter,” Anderson said. “It’s going around, but it goes around every year.”
The department may get a report if there’s a cluster of cases at a hospital or a nursing home, though that hasn’t been the case this year, Anderson said.
Montgomery County Public Schools spokesman Dana Tofig said absences are higher than normal because of the time of year, but the school system doesn’t necessarily track what diseases are leading to the absences.
“As is usual this time of year, absences are higher than normal, but not—at this point—out of line with what we would see this time of year,” Tofig wrote in an e-mail to Patch.
For tips on preventing the Norovirus, visit the CDC’s website.