CHICOPEE, Mass. (WWLP) - An illness that's affected many of us in western Massachusetts isn't the flu. Some people are saying it's worse.
This stomach virus goes by the name norovirus or gastroenteritus, and it's quick hitting. but once you get it, you probably won't forget about it for a while.
"Just constant throwing up, constantly. It was horrible, it was like 'wow I've never felt so much pain in my whole life,'" said Angelo Cosme from Springfield.
While most of us have been watching out for the flu, the norovirus is causing nausea and pain.
At the Chicopee Medical Center, Dr. Jefferson Dickey told 22News you can still be contagious with the virus up to five days AFTER you feel better.
"This is a problem, it's a real epidemic in the United States right now…It can go through institutions, nursing homes, hospitals it can be on inanimate objects," said Dr. Dickey who works for the Holyoke and Chicopee Medical Center.
While there is an immunization for this fairly common illness, the vaccine doesn't prevent this year's strain.
The symptoms of the norovirus can develop quickly with frequent vomiting or diarrhea, which can often resemble the signs of food poisoning with one of the main concerns being dehydration.
Elizabeth Spencer is a senior at Westfield State University and had to go to hospital for four days when she came down with the norovirus last month.
"I was so dehydrated they had to use an ultrasound machine to get an IV in my arm, they couldn't get a vein," said Spencer.
The best prevention is frequent hand-washing.
If you get the norovirus, drinking lots of liquids, especially sports drinks is best to treat the dehydration.
But if you feel overly fatigued, with fast heart rate or you're very thirsty, Dr. Dickey suggests seeking medical attention.
The norovirus kills around 800 people each year and is most dangerous for the very young and very old.