Just in time for Christmas, a highly contagious stomach bug is causing pains for many people throughout the Hudson Valley.

It starts out as a stomach ache and then quickly turns to violent vomiting and diarrhea. The symptoms are painful and can last for several days. What is this disease and how can you protect yourself?

People across the Hudson Valley are reporting cases of Norovirus. According to the CDC, the virus inflames your intestines and can cause severe stomach pain, nausea, diarrhea and vomiting. A fever, body aches and headaches are other symptoms commonly associated with the Norovirus.

A person will usually develop symptoms within a day or two of coming in contact with someone who's infected with the virus. According to reports, this year Norovirus is extremely contagious, causing it to sweep trough schools and offices at a record pace.

Once you get Norovirus, you can expect to be out of commission for one to three days. Because it's been so painful this year, some people may even need extra time to regain their strength once the disease has left. It's important to note that this illness is caused by a virus, which means antibiotics won't help fight Norovirus. The only treatment is plenty of fluids and bed rest. Fluids are important because vomiting and diarrhea can lead to dehydration.

Many people mistake Norovirus for the flu. They are very different diseases, and those who received the flu shot are not protected from Norovirus. While the Norovirus is very painful, the flu is much worse and lasts for a longer period of time.

Has the Norovirus hit your home yet? We'd like to know how long it took you to recover. You can share your experience with us on our Facebook page or in the comments section below.

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