'Stomach flu' invades Minnesota; officials urge people to wash hands frequently

Author:
Updated:
Original:

It's been called one of the worst influenza seasons in Minnesota in years, and health officials are saying outbreaks of norovirus have also been hitting Minnesotans especially hard.

Approximately 40 norovirus outbreaks have been reported to the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) since the beginning of November, the health department announced Monday. These outbreaks have occurred at restaurants, schools, nursing homes and private gatherings.

It's commonly referred to as the "stomach flu." Symptoms include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, body aches, a general run-down feeling and a mild fever, MDH notes.

Norovirus is "very contagious" – about 20 million people get sick from the virus annually, most from close contact with an infected person or from food prepared by someone who has the virus, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says.

Norovirus is actually the most common food-related illness in Minnesota and cases tend to peak during the winter months, MDH said.

Dr. Kirk Smith, who heads the Foodborne Diseases Unit at the state department of health, says washing your hands thoroughly after using the bathroom, before consuming food and before preparing food could prevent a majority of illnesses.

Smith says it's important to avoid preparing food commercially or for others while sick and for at least 72 hours after symptoms subside.

People typically get sick 24 to 48 hours after being exposed to the virus and symptoms can last from one to three days. But people can continue to spread the virus for several days after feeling better.

Worst influenza outbreak in years

Norovirus or the stomach flu is not the same as influenza, which is primarily a respiratory illness.

This has been one of the worst years for influenza in Minnesota in at least the last four years, WCCO reports.

Since the start of the influenza season, two people under the age of 18 have died from the virus, MDH said last week, and the number of Minnesota schools reporting influenza outbreaks jumped from 19 to 203 in a week, causing some districts to cancel school before winter vacation.

A spokesman for Mayo Clinic told the Star Tribune they’ve already seen more flu patients than they did in the entire flu season a year ago.

Next Up

Screen Shot 2021-01-18 at 3.17.49 PM

No KAT? No D'Lo? No problem as Timberwolves defeat Pelicans

The Timberwolves were without Karl-Anthony Towns and D'Angelo Russell, but still picked up a (SCORE) win.

Screen Shot 2021-01-23 at 7.53.44 PM

Spinouts, crashes across Twin Cities as snow gets heavier

There have been multiple incidents across the metro area.

Mason Branstrator

Family, friends raising funds for teen soccer standout with spinal injury

Mason Branstrator of Duluth was injured in a skiing accident.

Screen Shot 2021-01-22 at 9.08.16 PM

Tributes pour in after MN Supreme Court justice's daughter found dead

Olivia Chutich died near the campus of Iowa State University.

Image from iOS (96)

Early Saturday fire damages Burger King in Richfield

The fire was reported around 1:15 a.m. Saturday.

Jamal Mashburn Jr. / Gopher Basketball

Maryland hands Gophers first home loss of season

The 17th-ranked Gophers fell to the Terrapins 63-49 on Saturday afternoon.

Alibi Drinkery in Lakeville.

Minnesota Department of Health files lawsuit against Alibi Drinkery

The Lakeville bar has been in the news for defying orders.

Iron Tap snowmobile delivery

This MN restaurant will deliver to your ice house... on a snowmobile

Just in case you work up an appetite fishing on Lake Waconia.

Klobuchar and Trump

Klobuchar reacts to report Trump plotted against his attorney general

The NYT story alleges further tactics to overturn the election.

Related