According to the Montana Department of Health and Human Services, norovirus outbreaks are occurring around the state. Epidemiologist Dana Fejes says more outbreaks are typically reported during the winter time.

“In the last two months, we have had 12 outbreaks that have been reported to the state health department,” said Fejes. “That is a little bit higher than what we normally see during that time of the year. Usually, outbreaks are reported in November through April. That is usually our peak time, so to have a lot of those reports come in this early in the winter season is a little bit unusual.”

During those 12 reported outbreaks, over 250 people reported illness and 10 individuals were hospitalized. According to Fejes, there are a couple ways to prevent norovirus infections.

“The best method would be to wash your hands properly,” Fejes said. “Do use soap and water to wash your hands. The other big step you can take if you are ill with a norovirus infection is to stay home. Don’t prepare any food for other individuals, and don’t go and visit relatives. Especially not in nursing homes or hospitals because those are already very vulnerable settings.”

So far this season, there have not been any outbreaks reported in Missoula.