What Is the Norovirus?

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If you've ever had what you call the stomach flu, chances are it was really the norovirus. It's very contagious and infects over 20 million people every single year. You can get it from people or food. If you touch someone who's sick or something they've touched, you can catch it, too. And it's the biggest cause of food-poisoning outbreaks in restaurants. It happens when someone doesn't wash their hands before handling food.

Most outbreaks happen in the same months as the real flu season, from November to April, which may be why the two get confused sometimes. The norovirus can give you diarrhea, vomiting, nausea, and stomach pain. Sometimes you can get a fever or a headache. The bad news is there's no medicine to treat the norovirus yet, but most people get better within one or two days. Just make sure you drink lots of liquids to replace the ones you're losing. For WebMD, I'm Dr. Arefa Cassoobhoy.