Norovirus Outbreak Shuts Down Schools

Health officials warn of an outbreak of the highly contagious norovirus that is sweeping schools from Chicago to Rhode Island.
1:52 | 01/25/17

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Transcript for Norovirus Outbreak Shuts Down Schools
Thank you, robin. Now to a health alert about the extremely contagious norovirus with outbreaks in schools from Chicago to Rhode Island and health officials say, more outbreaks are on the way. Our chief health and medical editor Dr. Richard Besser is here to answer our questions and, doctor, more and more outbreaks were seen so two questions. Why are we seeing these outbreaks and how dangerous is this norovirus? We are in the midst of it. Norovirus is a bad actor. Each year it causes as many as 20 million cases of disease and every winter we're seeing the same thing. Take a look. In January, the numbers are up. But they're going to continue to climb. Every year it's usually February, March where we see that peak so it's bad now but it's going to get worse as people are indoors crowding, able to spread that virus between each other. What are the symptoms? Well, when you look at norovirus, it causes typical stomach flu symptoms, it may cause abdominal pain, some fever. It comes on quickly so 12 to 48 hours after being exposed you'll get those symptoms then one to three days later it tens to go away. Is it dangerous. It can be very dangerous. What you worry about is dehydration so little kid, the eld elderly, people in nursing hopes can get dehydrated and can die from it. It's called a stomach flu but it's not a stomach flu. There's no vaccination, you have to ride it out. This is one of those things where words are a bit of a problem. We use the word stomach flu but flu is influenza and there is one for that. Control measures are back to the basics, hand washing is critically important with soap and water. One way that alcohol sanitizer does nothing. You have to clean surfaces. This can live on surfaces for weeks, so if someone has been sick, you have to clean that up. And then if someone is sick they should stay home. They shouldn't prepare foods because it can spread that way too. Thanks, doctor.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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