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Peak time for norovirus and flu

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Buffalo: Peak time for norovirus and flu
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It's that time of year: coughing, sneezing and fever. But some people are also showing signs of norovirus. Health professionals tell YNN's Katie Cummings how you can tell the difference and prevent yourself from getting sick in the first place.

BUFFALO, N.Y. — As you gathered with family this past holiday, you may have also been sharing the table with germs.

The Erie County health department says it’s a peak time for norovirus and flu season. One Buffalo clinic has seen a recent spike in people with flu-like symptoms, coughing, sneezing and fever.

“Twenty-five to 30 patients with these kinds of complaints. Before Christmas. You know, we would see maybe 10 a day so easily it's doubled or tripled in volume," said Christopher Pease, Immediate Care physician's assistant.

As for norovirus, Pease says there is no solid way to diagnose it; just treat the symptoms. He says he's seen an increase in norovirus as well.

"It primarily causes you know diarrhea, vomiting, belly pain, nauseousness," said Dr. Gale Burstein, Erie County Health Commissioner.

Burstein says some people confuse the two illnesses, but they are very different. The flu is airborne and norovirus is transmitted in other ways.

"Somebody who's infected with norovirus might have it on their hand for some reason and you shake their hand and you might not even realize how many times a day that you touch your face, including your mouth, and so you can infect yourself," said Burstein.

Both health professionals say the best way to prevent the virus is to wash your hands thoroughly.

"I give my kids like the 20 second rule or singing old McDonald or something like that before you’re done washing your hands, but make sure you do a good job washing your hands with soap and water," said Burstein.

"Sneezing or coughing into the elbow, frequent hand washing, a little bit of self isolation," said Pease.

Staying away from loved ones can be hard during this time but both say it’s best since you could still be contagious and not know it.

"You can start to shed virus like a day or two before you start to feel ill and a week or two after your start to feel better," said Burstein.

"Usually we're keeping people out of work or school until they're able to go 24 hours without a fever that's untreated,” said Pease.

There’s no vaccine to prevent norovirus but Burstein say it's still not to late to get a flu shot.

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