Health clinics are seeing an upturn in people who’re sick with what’s being referred to as stomach flu, but it’s not the flu at all. Karen Crimmings, a registered nurse and a disease prevention specialist at the Cerro Gordo County Health Department, says it’s more likely a case of viral gastroenteritis.

She says it’s not a virus caused by influenza, even though it’s called the stomach flu. Several Iowa clinics are seeing an increase in the virus which causes things like vomiting and diarrhea. Crimmings says it can last for just day or it may stick around for ten days. She says some people will have it a bit longer than others, but the severe symptoms will occur usually within the first 24 hours.

Crimmings says if you have viral gastroenteritis, stay away from everybody as the bug is usually highly contagious. She says once this illness is in a household, it’s likely to spread around quickly. The best advice is to do frequent hand-washing to cut down on spreading germs, and to stay home so other people don’t catch what you have.

Crimmings says if you’re sick, the worst place you can be is in the workplace or at a holiday party. She says when you get a larger group of people together, the chances of spreading the illness increases. If you have the bug in your household, Crimmings also suggests you make sure to use household chlorine-based cleaners to spray down contaminated surfaces.