Once the virus hits, the attacks are often swift and brutal. The stomach and intestines become inflamed. Bouts of vomiting and diarrhea follow that leave victims weak and exhausted. And since the bug is extremely contagious, it can spread easily to others, especially in places like day-care centers, schools, cruise ships and nursing homes.
If all of this sounds familiar to those of you who were laid viciously low over the holidays, it’s because the arrival of cold weather usually coincides with an increase in one of winter's most dreaded horrors: norovirus. Although norovirus is often referred to, incorrectly, as stomach flu, it has nothing to do with influenza, which is a respiratory virus. While you can get sick from norovirus at any time during the year, it’s most common in the winter.
That’s when people tend to congregate more, and the closer you are, the more you tend to share your germs. Colder temperatures also seem to make it easier for the germs “to stick around on surfaces a little bit longer,” said Aron Hall, an epidemiologist who tracks norovirus at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.