State health department issues Norovirus warning

State officials are warning residents that the Norovirus is on the rise.

"Everyone who has been on a cruise recently they're coming back with it, and kids going to day care and school, they are coming back with all this illness," said Henry Ford Pediatric Doctor Marisa Elias.  "Norovirus is a virus that can cause gastroenteritis like vomiting and diarrhea. There are so many viruses out there, this is just one of them. Right now there is a huge epidemic."

Doctors say one reason the number of cases are on the rise is because of the weather.  

"Especially during winter time people are closer together, coughing, vomiting, spitting and especially with kids, they don't wash their hands as often," Elias said.

Medical professionals say although this virus is often described as the stomach flu, they make it clear that this virus is not connected to the flu.

Doctors also hope through education they can help reduce the number of cases of this virus that's sending thousands to emergency rooms. They say hand washing is the best preventative measure. 

"And doing that with warm water and soap and doing it for at least 20 seconds," she said.

In addition to vomiting and diarrhea Norovirus often causes nausea and stomach cramping. Symptoms can begin as early as 12 hours after exposure and usually last one to three days. 

But if you continue to experience symptoms, doctors say take action and bring them to the appropriate health care provider.