HAMPTON ROADS-- As if severe flu season isn't enough, Virginia is being hit with a new strain of norovirus, sometimes called 'stomach flu.'

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says this strain is highly contagious. It spreads easily in schools, nursing homes and other enclosed areas.

Despite being referred to as stomach flu, norovirus is not really the flu, which is a respiratory infection. Norovirus inflames the stomach and intestines which causes stomach pain, vomiting, and diarrhea.

Some people may also have a low-grade fever, chills, headache, body aches and fatigue. These symptoms can show up suddenly from one to three days after you are exposed to the virus.

To avoid infection Wash your hands frequently to stop the viruses from spreading. Help children wash their hands thoroughly. Also wash fruits and vegetables carefully and cook shellfish before eating.

When somebody does become sick make sure you disinfect areas in the home and at work.

If you do come down with 'stomach flu,' you should drink plenty of liquids to avoid dehydration. You should usually feel better after two or three days.

This norovirus strain is called the Sydney strain because it started in Australia and has caused outbreaks around the world.

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