It’s a noro-easter.

Norovirus, a hyper-contagious stomach bug, is spreading across the Northeast, causing schools to close and citizens to suffer violent diarrhea and other alarming symptoms.

“It’s incredibly contagious,” Dr. Alfred Sacchetti of Virtua Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Camden, New Jersey, told ABC News.

“Just one particle of norovirus you ingest will make you sick.”

A hypercontagious stomach virus, a norovirus, is spreading across the Northeast, causing schools to close and citizens to suffer violent diarrhea and other alarming symptoms.  Comzeal – stock.adobe.com

A hypercontagious stomach virus, a norovirus, is spreading across the Northeast, causing schools to close and citizens to suffer violent diarrhea and other alarming symptoms. Comzeal – stock.adobe.com

Recent data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that the Northeast (particularly Pennsylvania, New Jersey and New York) has the highest positivity rate for the hypervirulent strain.

A staggering 14% of swab tests in the region came back positive for the gastrointestinal illness in early February.

This figure represents an increase from around 12% two weeks earlier and only 4% in November, before the epidemic.

“My 2-year-old son had some stomach problems last week; His entire daycare seems to be struggling,” said Jacob Joyner, a resident of Cherry Hill, New Jersey, whose family was affected by the disease.

And it’s not just those parts of the mid-Atlantic region that have been affected.

Norovirus is also increasing nationwide, with 12% of tests positive, which is a 3% increase since November.

“It’s incredibly contagious,” said Dr. Alfred Sacchetti of Virtua Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Camden, New Jersey. A. Frank/peopleimages.com – stock.adobe.com

Unfortunately, the stomach virus (of which there are multiple varieties) is reportedly the leading cause of acute gastroenteritis (or gastrointestinal problems) in the US, resulting in between 19 and 21 million cases each year, according to the CDC.

Cases generally rise around February and March, when people are more likely to be cooped up indoors and therefore in close proximity to each other.

Sufferers often contract the virus by eating contaminated food and liquids, touching contaminated surfaces, and interacting with people infected with the virus.

According to the CDC, people who get it from others usually do so by caring for them, sharing food or eating utensils with them, or eating food that they handle.

Norovirus cases have increased dramatically across the country.  Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Norovirus cases have increased dramatically across the country. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Once infected, the patient may experience a series of alarming symptoms ranging from violent diarrhea to stomach pain and vomiting, which can lead to significant fluid loss and eventually dehydration.

These complications begin between 12 and 48 hours after exposure and can persist for three days.

A norovirus is particularly insidious because of how easily it spreads from person to person.

It only takes a few particles to make someone sick, while those infected often remain contagious for weeks after their symptoms improve.

Norovirus is very contagious, especially among children.  Dragana Gordic – stock.adobe.com

Norovirus is very contagious, especially among children. Dragana Gordic – stock.adobe.com

Children are especially likely to facilitate the spread of the contagion, which has devastated several schools and daycares in the northeast.

Earlier this month, Irving Elementary School in Middlesex County, New Jersey, closed due to a stomach virus outbreak.

It has since reopened after undergoing a deep cleaning, ABC News reported.

Fortunately, people can mitigate the spread of norovirus by rinsing fruits and vegetables, cooking seafood thoroughly, and, of course, washing their hands, according to the CDC.

Unfortunately, unlike coronavirus and some other bugs, norovirus has resistance to hand sanitizer.

“Purel and alcohol-based substances do not pass through the virus envelope and remain contagious on the hands,” Sacchetti declared.

“Soap and water are the only things that will really protect you from this.”

In the meantime, those infected with the virus are advised to stay home and avoid preparing food for others while they are sick and for two days afterward.

They should also drink plenty of fluids to replace fluids lost through vomiting and diarrhea.

This will help prevent dehydration, the potentially most serious symptom of the disease.

By Sam