Iowa Public Health seeing growing numbers of norovirus cases

Published: Jan. 30, 2018 at 5:40 PM CST
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The Iowa Department of Public Health is warning that the number of norovirus cases in the state is growing. And many sufferers are confusing their symptoms with the flu.

At St. Luke’s Hospital, emergency room doctors didn’t see a single confirmed case of norovirus in September, October and November. But they’ve seen 19 lab-confirmed cases in December and 26 so far this month.

Symptoms often include vomiting and diarrhea and many describe it as “stomach flu.”

Dr. Ryan Dowden, a St. Luke’s emergency room physician, says there’s no connection to Influenza. But patents often confuse the two.

“A lot of people use the term Influenza or flu or stomach symptoms as well as cough and cold symptoms. That would be a very common thing. But the difference with norovirus is it’s only stomach symptoms and not any cough or congestion,” he said.

Dr. Dowden says norovirus can spread easily and can be a problem is people prepare food while ill. The best precaution against norovirus is good hygiene and frequent hand washing.