First, there was a big influenza surge in New Jersey, then RSV cases started rising, and after that, we had the XBB.1.5 COVID variant, known as “the Kracken” emerge, and hospitalizations began to increase.

Fortunately, those illnesses have been decreasing in recent weeks and the so-called tripledemic threat seems to be fading, but a new wave of sickness has suddenly engulfed the Garden State.

According to Dr. Ed Lifshitz, the director of communicable disease service at the New Jersey Health Department, norovirus seems to be spreading in North, Central, and South Jersey.

A lot of sick people

“We are definitely seeing an increasing number of cases and outbreaks being reported, not terribly unusual for this time of year but we are seeing more this year than we have in the last couple of years,” Lifshitz said.

Norovirus can cause a lot of unpleasant reactions.

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"It hits suddenly and it hits very hard, diarrhea almost universally, nausea and vomiting extremely common. People feel really miserable with it,” Lifshitz said.

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Once you get it, it’s gone pretty quickly

Lifshitz said this particular strain of norovirus seems pretty bad but it does seem to pass quickly.

"Within a day people are feeling significantly better and usually within three days they’re pretty much close to back to normal,” Lifshitz said.

And having it once doesn't make you immune from getting it again.

“There are a lot of different noroviruses out there which is why you can get it more than once, meaning just cause you’re had it once doesn’t mean you won’t get it again,” Lifshitz said.

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How to protect yourself

Lifshitz said norovirus is passed through exposure to fecal and vomitus matter on bathroom and other fixtures so it’s very important to be “really meticulous about that hand hygiene, and by that I mean wash your hands regularly, particularly before you’re going to put them in your mouth or handle food.”

He also noted “unlike many other viruses, noroviruses are really somewhat resistant to hand sanitizers, so when we say wash your hands we mean wash your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds, it does an excellent job.”

What should you do if you get sick with nororvirus?

“The way you take care of it is really stuff that your mother would have told you, take care of yourself, stay home, drink fluids, try to stay hydrated.” Lifshitz said.

He also recommended avoiding fatty foods and alcohol for a few days, even after your feel better.

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