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Grand Canyon sees spike in gastrointestinal illnesses, norovirus cases

Grand Canyon sees spike in gastrointestinal illnesses, norovirus cases
Grand Canyon National Park has reported over 100 cases of gastrointestinal illness since late May, with some confirmed as norovirus, according to the National Park Service. File Photo by Stephen Shaver/UPI | License Photo

June 23 (UPI) -- Grand Canyon National Park has reported more than 100 cases of gastrointestinal illness in recent weeks, the National Park Service said.

A gastrointestinal illness alert issued May 20, advised people about a growing number of visitors getting sick, with symptoms mirroring those of norovirus.

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A park spokesperson said Thursday that some of the cases have been confirmed as the contagious disease.

"We have had positive confirmation that a number of associated river trips have tested positive for norovirus. It's hard to say if all the cases are linked to norovirus, but we have a good understanding right now that at least in the trips that have been tested, that it's norovirus most likely," park spokesperson Joelle Baird told NBC News.

The park had at least 118 cases of people coming down with gastrointestinal illness as of June 10.

"Norovirus is a very contagious virus that causes vomiting and diarrhea. Anyone can get infected and sick with norovirus," according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's website.

Symptoms can last between one and three days and the virus can be spread through touching infected surfaces.

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Cases spiked in May, leading to the initial warning.

"We have plateaued a little bit in terms of the number of reported cases, especially over the last three to four weeks," said Baird.

Norovirus rarely causes serious illness or death, but there is no specific medication to treat people who become infected.

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