CHICOPEE, Mass. (WWLP) – The norovirus, also known as the stomach flu has been on the rise across the country. 22News spoke with doctors about what we’re seeing here in western Massachusetts.

New health data indicate that the norovirus, or the stomach flu, is at a seasonal high. Positive tests, now hitting record highs not seen since last March. “It spreads by contact and the virus is very contagious,” said Dr. Armando Paez of Baystate Health.

Norovirus can spread by touching infected hands, surfaces, and even food and water, and is the most common form of food born illness here in the US. The virus can cause symptoms like diarrhea, vomiting, nausea, stomach pain, also sometimes a mild fever and body aches.

According to the CDC, most norovirus outbreaks happen between November and April, infecting about 20 million people a year. The CDC reports that the Midwest is currently seeing the highest rate of cases, and the Northeast, is not too far behind. Local doctors say relaxed precautionary measures like washing hands could be a reason for the spike.

“From the time you get infected to the symptoms, it’s very abrupt, it 1 to 2 days, and the symptoms last for 2 to 3 days, but you can be infectious even after two weeks.

Dr. Paez says that there is no treatment for norovirus, and your best line of defense is practicing proper hygiene, and even making sure to eat properly cooked food, including seafood. If you do get sick, make sure to drink plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration and wait for the illness to resolve within a few days.