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CDC Warns of Powerful Norovirus Passing Through the US

Update Date: Jan 26, 2013 12:49 PM EST

As American's battle with a major outbreak of the flu virus, now there's another more serious and possibly deadly virus on the loose, the Norovirus.

The norovirus causes stomach upset, vomiting and diarrhea. The sickness is sometimes referred to as the stomach flu, though influenza has nothing to do with it.

There have been more than 140 outbreaks in the U.S. since September and may have been caused by the new Sydney strain of norovirus. In the U.S., it is now accounting for about 60 percent of norovirus outbreaks, according to report released Thursday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The CDC has warned that the worst is yet to come. In a typical norovirus season, cases peak in January, so the CDC says it's not clear yet how bad this season will turn out to be.

The main problem with the norovirus is that it is particularly difficult to contain, as the virus itself can live outside the human body for an unusually long time. It spreads easily through hospitals, schools, malls, restaurants, and anywhere that people are in close contact and aren't as clean as they need to be.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said roughly 21 million people will get some form of norovirus this year, 70,000 will be hospitalized and 800 will die. Symptoms come on very suddenly, within hours after a person has been exposed to it.

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