JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (Press Release) – Flu cases have been on the rise in Missouri this month. Influenza has struck residents all over the state, and noroviruses also have been increasing. An elementary school in Sullivan County had to close for a day this month because so many kids were sick. Doctors are telling patients to be alert for symptoms, which can often mirror other illnesses.

Dr. Cori Repp, regional director for U.S Healthworks, says they’re spread through fecal matter and these painful stomach bugs are scary because they’re highly contagious.

“So when someone doesn’t wash their hands after they use the bathroom and goes on to touch a doorknob or prepare your food, it can be transmitted to another person,” she explained.

Norovirus outbreaks happen throughout the year but the CDC says more than 80 percent occur from November to April. Symptoms include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, stomach pain, fever or body aches. A person usually develops symptoms 12 to 48 hours after being exposed, with the illness typically lasting about one to three days.

While Woody Allen once said 80 percent of success in life can be attributed to simply showing up, doctors advise against that when it comes to norovirus infections, or influenza that’s also been spreading rapidly around the country.

Dr. Don Bucklin, another regional director for U.S Healthworks, says do your co-workers a favor and stay home.

“You just cough a little bit and you put considerable virus into the air and it’s going to hang there for a couple of hours, so you can go to work and get a lot of people sick without trying very hard,” he said.

Bucklin says while you can’t control whether or not people stay home when they’re ill, you can help yourself by making sure you wash your hands often and use an anti-bacterial agent.

“Before I rub my nose or touch my forehead or touch my hair or touch anywhere on my head, I would always give my hands a squirt first because I don’t want to transfer virus from whatever I’ve touched to my face, where it can get into me,” Bucklin added.