BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — The norovirus is surging nationwide, and its effects are felt here in Alabama. The CDC confirms at least one outbreak in our state already.

The Alabama Department of Public Health tells CBS42 that outbreaks in the winter months are expected, but this stomach flu is currently spreading with a vengeance.

ADPH State Health Officer, Dr. Scott Harris said the norovirus often causes nausea, vomiting, stomach pain and diarrhea.

“Because this causes diarrhea, it’s easy for people, you know, if they forget to wash their hands or they don’t clean their surfaces and their bathroom carefully, it’s easy to spread to other people.”

He said the virus is extremely contagious.

“The concern is, you know that you can take a whole classroom full of kids out all at one time,” said Dr. Harris. “Or, again, if you’re in a facility like a hospital or nursing home where you have really vulnerable people, you know you can have, you know some serious effects because of that.”

Doctors with Birmingham Pediatric Associates say norovirus is commonly seen in children. Death is rare, but dehydration is a danger to look out for.

“Often, they’ll be able to be managed with what we refer to as oral rehydration or just being able to drink enough fluids to maintain hydration- become adequately hydrated,” said Pediatrician, Dr. Max Hale. “Occasionally if the symptoms become more significant and patients can’t tolerate oral rehydration, then they’ll need some fluids being given intravenously.”

Dr. Hale says the virus can last up to 72 hrs. He said treatment is symptomatic, but rest and hydration are key.

“We would tell our parents the most obvious thing they can monitor is urine output and we always tell families if their children don’t have urine output for greater than eight hours, we need to hear from them.”

To help prevent the spread of norovirus, doctors recommend practicing common hygiene precautions like washing your hands with soap and water and using bleach to clean hard surfaces that are touched often.