MADISON, Wis. -

Health officials are warning Dane County residents about a likely outbreak of norovirus, known for striking quickly and causing vomiting or diarrhea.

Public Health - Madison and Dane County said it has received sporadic reports from around Dane County of the likely virus and is concerned about the spread of the virus as people attend holiday gatherings.

The most common forms of transmission are either by touching a surface contaminated with the virus or by eating food that has been contaminated by an infected person who prepares or serves it.

Symptoms include diarrhea which is usually watery, as well as vomiting, cramps, nausea, headache, fatigue and muscle aches. Some might also have a low-grade fever.

The virus is resilient and can survive for long periods in the environment and on surfaces such as door handles or tabletops, officials said. It’s recommended that those with the virus should not prepare food.

The illness can spread for 48 hours after the patient recovers.

Children showing symptoms should not attend school or child care until they have been free of symptoms for 48 hours, officials said.

Health officials suggest the following to protect yourself from the norovirus:

• Frequent hand washing, especially after using the toilet and changing diapers and before eating or preparing food.

• Thoroughly clean and disinfect contaminated surfaces by using a bleach-based household cleaner.

• Immediately remove and wash clothing or linens that may be contaminated with virus after an episode of illness. Clean the garments with hot water and soap.

• Quickly and carefully flush or discard any vomit and or stool in the toilet and make sure that the surrounding area is sanitized and kept clean.