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Apr 6, 2012 8:01 PM

Norovirus strikes Southern Arizona

TUCSON - Seven clusters of Norovirus are currently being investigated, according to the Pima County Health Department.

The virus, also known as the 24 stomach flu, is hitting the elderly population in Tucson and Green Valley the most. The health department says that while the virus is common, seeing this many cases at once is worrisome. With Easter and Passover this weekend, they want the public to take extra precaution.

Michael Akoba, from the Pima County Health Department, says the virus is hard to contain.

"Norovirus is highly contagious. It can be spread from person to person quite easily--or contact with contaminated items."

Items such as silverware, hard surfaces, clothing, linens and even carpeting.

The virus usually affects the digestive system, causing symptoms like vomiting, diarrhea and nausea.

Anyone can catch the virus, but it can be dangerous for people with a compromised immune system. Because of that, Akoba says if you feel ill, steer clear of assisted living homes.

"During the Easter vacation or Easter weekend, we suspect a lot of families will want to visit their loves ones that may be in these facilities, so we just want to alert everybody," he continued.

To stay safe and Norovirus free, he says make sure you wash your hands often, sanitize all surfaces, and stay home if you don't feel well.

Larry Rush, the Executive Director of St. Luke's Home, says one person at his facility felt ill, so they've quarantined them for the time being.

"We're like a community. If we get an outbreak, it's really troublesome and it could lead to fatalities."

For more information, visit the Pima County Health Department at http://www.pimahealth.org/

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