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'Sydney strain' of norovirus rips through Minnesota

A nasty stomach bug sweeping the globe is spreading in Minnesota, KARE 11 reports.

Minnesota health officials confirm the Sydney strain of Norovirus has hit the state, and it is laying people low with diarrhea, vomiting, cramps and sometimes fever, KARE reports. Health officials say norovirus peaks in winter. Every few years, a new strain to which people are not immune surfaces.

Norovirus is highly contagious, and virus particles can live on surfaces, including laundry. Health officials recommend vigorous hand-scrubbing.

For those who get norovirus, there’s not much to do but ride it out and protect yourself from dehydration, doctors say.

The Centers for Disease Control says the new strain, first identified in Australia, has been spreading in the U.S. since September, CBS News reported.

The Sydney strain’s spread has coincided with a spike in influenza nationwide, which may have contributed to a perception that this is a particularly bad flu season in the U.S, CBS notes.

Each year, norovirus causes about 21 million illnesses and contributes to roughly 70,000 hospitalizations and 800 deaths, the CDC says.

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April 18, 2014