Officials with the Wyoming Department of Health are warning people about the dangers of the norovirus.

Spokeswoman Kim Deti says the virus, which is also known as the "cruise ship virus," can cause a variety of flu-like symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, stomach cramps, fatigue and dehydration.

Norovirus is spread when people eat or drink contaminated food and beverages, touch surfaces contaminated with the virus or through close contact with someone who is already sick. Germs spread very easily in places where people are frequently in close contact such as schools, daycares and nursing homes.

Norovirus victims often think they are suffering from either the flu or food poisoning.

While the norovirus is usually just an unpleasant experience lasting 1-3 days, Deti says the dehydration caused by the virus can require medical attention for some people. She says that can include very young children or infants, people with compromised immune systems and those who have difficulty caring for themselves.

There is no vaccine for norovirus, and Deti says the best protection against it is frequent hand washing.

Deti says those afflicted with norovirus should stay home from work or school and be especially mindful of drinking plenty of fluids.

Norovirus cases always increase during the winter months, but this year there is even more concern because the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say a new strain has been identified that could lead to 50 percent more cases than usual.