Ottawa County health officials are dealing with an uptick in a Norovirus-like stomach virus. Its something the Ottawa County Department of Public Health has been monitoring since December but they say within the last couple weeks they've seen quite an increase in reports.

"In a school if we got 20% absences due to the same kind of symptoms, that we can consider an outbreak or more," Epidemiologist Marcia Mansaray, said.

"So we've been having settings, where there are children, in the last couple of weeks. Absences looking at 30-40% with vomiting and diarrhea."

Mansaray says school and child care facilities across Ottawa County have been the hardest hit, but because the Norovirus isn't a reportable disease they don't have any numbers on those affected by the illness.

Regardless with the rapid rise in reports, the Ottawa County Department of Public Health felt the need to alert the public.

"It's widespread and it's not just in Ottawa County," Mansaray said. "It's regional. We're seeing it in the counties around us too."

On Wednesday, Davenport University closed the Lettinga Campus for the week after a confirmed Norovirus outbreak.

So what can you do to prevent the spread of it?

  • Experts say washing your hands regularly is important.
  • Hand sanitizer doesn't count because it doesn't kill the Norovirus, instead it just spreads it in your hands.
  • Experts suggest you should also clean your environment with some kind of bleach based solution.
  • If you're feeling sick, don't prepare any food.

"This is out there and this is increasing so there are things you can do to protect yourself and keep everyone else healthy too."

Mansaray adds, if you're feeling stomach bug symptoms after eating out at a restaurant, be sure to report it to the Department of Public Health. An outbreak in a public setting, like that one, is something they would need to look into.

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