Positive cases for a highly contagious norovirus are rising across Oklahoma and Texas. Since February, states in the northeast part of the United States have been increasing, and cases are starting to rise in the southern states.

A norovirus is often referred to as the "stomach flu," which often spreads during the winter months when people are mostly in confined spaces. Symptoms include vomiting and diarrhea several times a day, coupled with stomach cramps, low-grade fever, chills, headaches and muscle aches. Also, dehydration is main factor due to the persistent vomiting and diarrhea.

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Is this norovirus life-threatening?

Typically, a norovirus is nothing to be too worried about. It usually runs its course within a few days. But the infection should still be take seriously. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the norovirus causes 56,000 to 71,000 hospitalizations and 570 to 800 deaths every year.

How does the norovirus spread?

There are many ways for the norovirus to spread. It spreads easily in group settings and it can live on surfaces for several days. Here are other ways the norovirus can spread:

  • Touching an infected person
  • Eating food or drinking liquids that have been infected
  • Touching infected surfaces
  • Sharing utensils or drinks with infected persons

Can you avoid being infected?

There are several ways for people to protect themselves from the norovirus.

  • Washing hands properly
  • Wash fruits, vegetables and seafood thoroughly
  • Do not prepare food or care for others if sick
  • Clean and disinfect contaminated surfaces
  • Wash laundry thoroughly

How bad is the norovirus spreading in Oklahoma and Texas?

As of March 25, the southern states are not as bad off as the northeast states for positive norovirus cases. But according to the CDC, the southern states are not that far along. The CDC expects the south, which includes Oklahoma and Texas, could be the next hardest hit region. As of March 9, the south saw a three-week positivity rate of 13.5 percent.

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