By Telly Mamayek, NewsRadio 830 WCCO

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Norovirus has reared its ugly head once again. The illness, also known as the Norwalk Virus, is a gastro-intestinal bug that is common this time of year.

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“There have been outbreaks of norovirus in long-term care facilities,” said Kris Ehresmann, director of the Infectious Disease, Epidemiology, Prevention and Control Division of the Minnesota Health Department.

NewsRadio 830 WCCO’s Telly Mamayek Reports

Some schools also have reported a wave of absences due to the illness.

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Symptoms of norovirus include abdominal cramping and pain, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. It affects people of all ages, but is especially dangerous for infants because of the risk of dehydration.

Norovirus is very contagious.

“If you are sick or you have been sick you want to avoid food preparation for the duration of your illness,” said Ehresmann, adding the best weapons against norovirus are soap and water. “Hand-washing is an excellent way to limit the spread of many diseases, especially the norovirus.”

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As for the seasonal flu, Ehresmann says it’s been a relatively quiet season so far in Minnesota. It often does not peak until late January or early February.