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Influenza virus vs. norovirus: What’s the difference?

(KWWL) - It's that time of the year – the dreaded flu season.

But what's the difference between the flu virus and norovirus?

Norovirus is often known as a stomach bug or stomach flu. However, norovirus is not related to the flu, which is a respiratory illness caused by the influenza virus.

INFORMATION FROM THE CENTERS FOR DISEASE CONTROL AND PREVENTION (CDC)

NOROVIRUS

OVERVIEW

  • Very contagious
  • Outbreaks can happen anytime, but they're most common from November to April

SYMPTOMS

  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Nausea
  • Stomach pain
  • Symptoms develop 12 to 48 hours after exposure

TRANSMISSION

You can get norovirus by accidentally getting tiny particles of feces or vomit from an infected person in your mouth.

This can happen if you:

  • Consume contaminated food or water
  • Touch contaminated surfaces and then put your unwashed hands in your mouth
  • Have direct contact with an infected person

PREVENTION

  • Wash your hands with soap and water after going to the bathroom or before eating
  • Carefully wash fruits and vegetables before eating them
  • Noroviruses are relatively resistant to heat, meaning they can survive temperatures as high as 145°F 
  • Clean and disinfect surfaces
  • Wash laundry thoroughly when clothing items are contaminated with vomit or feces

INFLUENZA VIRUS (FLU)

OVERVIEW

  • Flu activity peaks between December and February
  • Can cause mild to severe illness, which can lead to hospitalization or even death

SYMPTOMS

  • Fever (not everyone with the flu will have a fever)
  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Headaches
  • Fatigue

TRANSMISSION

  • Experts believe the flu spreads through droplets made when you cough, sneeze or talk
  • People with the flu can spread it to others up to about six feet away

PREVENTION

  • Get the flu shot – it's not too late in the flu season
Author Profile Photo

Olivia Schmitt

Morning Anchor

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